Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies for Grade 9 fully meet the expectations of alignment to the standards. The materials provide appropriate texts and associated tasks and activities for students to build literacy proficiency and advance comprehension over the course of the school year. Students engage in writing, speaking and listening, and language tasks to build critical thinking as they grow knowledge and build skills to transfer to other rigorous texts and tasks.
Text Quality and Alignment to the Standards
Overall, the Grade 9 materials meet the expectations for Gateway 1. A variety of high quality, complex texts support students’ growing literacy skills over the course of the year. However, some text types/genres called for in the standards are not fully represented.
Materials support students’ growth in writing skills over the course of the year using high-quality, text-dependent questions and tasks, though some writing types called for in the standards are not present. Students may need additional support with speaking and listening activities. Materials do not include explicit instruction targeted for grammar and convention standards.
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Texts are worthy of students' time and attention: texts are of quality and are rigorous, meeting the text complexity criteria for each grade. Materials support students' advancing toward independent reading.
The Grade 9 materials meet the expectations for Text Quality and Complexity. Students engage with rich texts that support their growing literacy skills as they read closely, attend to content in multiple genres and types (including multimedia platforms). Texts are organized to support students' close reading and writing, and guidance around quantitative, qualitative, and placement considerations is provided for teachers should they introduce other texts into the materials.
NOTE: Indicator 1b is non-scored and provides information about text types and genres in the program.
Anchor/core texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria of anchor texts being of publishable quality, worthy of especially careful reading, and considering a range of student interests.
Throughout the year, students have the opportunity to read about a broad range of subjects of interest, such as education in America, issues of terrorism, and more. Students are also exposed to highly engaging, theme-rich fiction pieces, such as Ernest Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.”
Anchor texts in the majority of chapters/units and across the yearlong curriculum are of publishable quality. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Unit 1 contains multiple texts of publishable quality from reputable publishers. Unit 1, Part 1, incorporates the first four texts to introduce the focus, Reading Closely for Textual Details. Helen Keller’s personal narrative, The Story of My Life, is a commercially published text. The remaining texts serve as an introduction to the content of the main texts; each is a different text type, including a photograph, the previously mentioned personal narrative, multimedia video, and website.
- Unit 2's anchor text, Plato’s Apology of Socrates, supports the purpose of the unit of making evidence-based claims. Apology is Plato’s account of the defense Socrates gave at his trial in Athens in 399 B.C..
- Unit 5 texts offer many perspectives and positions on the topic of terrorism and allow students to study the issue from a variety of angles. Since terrorism is currently an issue of global concern, this may be a topic of interest for Grade 9 students.
Anchor texts are well-crafted, content-rich, and include a range of student interests, engaging students at the grade level for which they are placed. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1, Part 4, Activity 3, students are asked to read one of three challenging texts in preparation for the culminating task: Eleanor Roosevelt’s "Good Citizenship: The Purpose of Education," Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, and Arne Duncan’s "The Vision of Education Reform in the United States." These texts are grade-level appropriate, challenging, and require close reading.
- Unit 3’s anchor text is Ernest Hemingway’s short story, ”The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” This piece is well-crafted and appropriate for the grade level. It encourages close and multiple readings because it explores several themes such as courage, violence, gender roles, and marriage; these could be used to discuss similar themes in other stories. This story also has an interesting plot, engaging characters, and unusual shifts in perspective that Grade 9 students will find engaging.
- Unit 4 explores the theme “Music: What Role Does it Play in Our Lives” and consists of five text sets. Texts are selected not only to appeal to students’ interests, but also to “provide many ideas about how music plays an essential role in our lives, including its impact on leisure, self-expression, and culture.” Texts are chosen for their ability to introduce various subtopics within the general topic area and include texts such as “What is Online Piracy?”, “Why Your Brain Craves Music," and “The Evolution of Music: How Genres Rise and Fall Over Time.”
- Unit 5 contains multiple texts of publishable quality from established publishers. For example, students read Major Terrorism Cases: Past and Present from FBI.gov and Events of 9/11. To increase student engagement and understanding, the curriculum also provides information about terrorism via timelines, political cartoons, and videos.
Materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.
*Indicator 1b is non-scored (in grades 9-12) and provides information about text types and genres in the program.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially reflect a distribution of text types and genres required by the standards for Grade 9. While this curriculum provides an abundance of informational text, including literary nonfiction, it does not include poetry such as narrative poems, sonnets, ballads or dramas. Examples of text types and genres that are provided include, but are not limited to:
- Unit 1, “Education is the New Currency,” is centered around numerous texts related to how education in the United States is changing. The curriculum provides the teacher with a list of texts used in the unit via the Reading Closely For Textual Details Unit Texts chart (80-81). Texts provided include personal narratives by Helen Keller and Eleanor Roosevelt, speeches by Colin Powell, Arne Duncan, and Horace Mann, and other nonfiction pieces such as TED Talks, websites, government documents, and videos.
- Unit 2 uses Plato’s Apology of Socrates as the anchor text. This nonfiction piece is used throughout the unit and serves as students’ main source when making evidence-based claims.
- In Unit 3, the instruction is centered on the analysis of the short story, “The Short Happy Life of Frances Macomber,” by Ernest Hemingway; this fictional text is the sole text for this unit.
- Unit 4 offers Common Source Sets “that model and briefly explain a text sequence focused on a particular Area of Investigation” (316). A list of these Common Sources can be found at the end of the unit. Source 1 is a YouTube video entitled, “Imagine Life Without Music." Source 2 is the Internet-based article, “A Brief History of the Music Industry.” Source 3 consists of three internet-based sources: “What is Online Piracy?”, “Why Your Brain Craves Music,” and “The 25 Most Important Civil Rights Moments in Music History.” Sources 4 and 5 also consist of non-fiction, internet-based articles about music (403-406).
- Unit 5 provides a comprehensive list of texts in the chart, Building Evidence-Based Arguments Unit Texts. Text Sets 1 and 2 consist of informational texts such as “Militant Extremists in the United States” by Jonathan Masters and “A Brief History of Terrorism in the United States” by Brian Resnick. Text Set 3 consists of a political cartoon. Text Set 4 consists of seminal arguments such as Public Law 107-40 “Authorization for Use of Military Force” and Osama bin Laden’s Declaration of Jihad against Americans. Text Set 5 includes additional nonfiction arguments such as “Obama’s Speech on Drone Policy” and “Terrorism Can Only Be Defeated by Education, Tony Blair Tells the UN” (535).
Texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade level (according to quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis).
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for texts having the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task. Most texts fall within either the Current Lexile Band or the Stretch Lexile Band for grades 9-10. Some texts exceed the band for grades 9-10, but are structured in a way that make them accessible to Grade 9 students. The few texts that do not have Lexiles provided qualitatively meet the requirements for this grade level because they serve as introductory pieces for a unit, provide for the exploration of several themes or multiple meanings, allow for the analysis of narrative structure, or are easily accessible sources that offer different perspectives on an issue.
Most anchor texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative and qualitative analysis and relationship to their associated student task. While many of the texts are challenging, texts are chosen to engage student interest and promote inquiry, which make them worthy of students’ time and attention. Texts support students’ advancement toward independent reading. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Unit 1 contains an extensive set of texts for students to practice close reading for details and more than half are accompanied with a Lexile score. Of the identified texts, only one falls far below grade-level, an excerpted transcript of Colin Powell’s TED Talk, “Kids Needs Structure.” The speech was given a 900L, putting it in the 4th-5th grade Stretch Lexile Band. Although this text measures only 900L, it is appropriate for the grade level because it provides strong description and narration. Powell's ideas and supporting details also allow students to “explore his perspective, which developed during his days in the military.” Unit 1, Part 1 incorporates the first four texts to introduce the focus, Reading Closely for Textual Details. Helen Keller’s personal narrative, The Story of My Life, has an identified Lexile score of 1250. This set of texts includes a photograph that connects to the previously mentioned personal narrative, multimedia video, and website. In Unit 1, Part 4, Activity 3, students are asked to read one of three challenging texts in preparation for the culminating task. Eleanor Roosevelt’s “Good Citizenship: The Purpose of Education” measures at 1250L, Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia measures at 1410L, and Arne Duncan’s “The Vision of Education Reform in the United States” measures at 1200L which falls within the Stretch Lexile Band for grades 9-10. These texts are challenging and allow for close reading, questioning, analysis and summary. While Jefferson's text is above grade level, it provides teachers the opportunity to assign a more complex text based on individual student's reading comprehension levels. This one would be reserved for more capable students.
- The core text for Unit 2 is Plato’s Apology with a 980L, which falls within the 9th grade Current Lexile Band of 960L to 1120L. Students use a question-based approach to read and analyze the text. Qualitatively, this text is challenging since requires familiarity with Greek leaders such as Chaerephon, Anytus and Lycon, as well as Greek mythology allusions such as Minos and Rhadamanthus. Other vocabulary will also challenge students such as words like “impetuous” and “odious.” At the end of Unit 1, the teacher’s edition provides “media supports” with various editions of Apology on Audiobooks, YouTube, ebooks, and PDFs. Each edition gives a description. For example, “2. Socratic Citizenship: Plato’s Apology” is described as a lecture from Yale University on the political and philosophical contexts of Socrates’ trial. Although this is an advanced analysis of Plato’s Apology, students can benefit from watching how an expert discusses an important text in Western civilization.”
- In Unit 5, the curriculum provides a variety of texts in the form of text sets. Lexile levels are provided for texts within the Text Notes sections of the teacher’s edition. For example, In Unit 5, Part 1, Activity 2, students read “What is Terrorism?”; this text measures at 1200L which exceeds the Current Lexile Band for grades 9-10, but falls within the Stretch Lexile Band. Students also read “Terrorists or Freedom Fighters: What’s the Difference?” which measures at 1070L which falls within both the Current and Stretch Lexile Bands for grades 9-10. The final text in this activity is “Militant Extremists in the United States” which measures at 1470L. This text is very complex and its Lexile level is higher than the top measurement for the Stretch Lexile Band for 11-CCR. The text does state that “the headings and subheadings help organize the information into sections” (459), making it more accessible to 9th grade students. The other texts within the unit are timelines, political cartoons, and videos. The curriculum indicates that these texts are readily accessible to 9th grade students. Text 4.1 “Authorization for Use of Military Force” is Public Law 107-40 has an estimated Lexile level of 1270L which falls in the Stretch Lexile Band for grades 9-10. All the texts in Unit 5 were appropriately chosen as resources for the unit’s final assignment where students develop a supported position on the issue of terrorism. These texts offer many perspectives and positions on the topic and allow students to study the issue from a variety of angles.
Materials support students' literacy skills (understanding and comprehension) over the course of the school year through increasingly complex text to develop independence of grade level skills (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels).
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials supporting students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. Series of texts are at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band.
As the year progresses, students read increasingly difficult texts. In the Grade 9 curriculum, the writing skills build on one another, as well as the complexity of the texts to support the thinking and literacy skills. In the units with the texts sets, there is a breadth and depth of choices in the full range of the Lexile stretch band providing opportunities to challenge students by giving them complex texts, but also by providing more reachable texts as they are working on analysis and synthesis skills in writing.
The complexity of anchor texts students read provides an opportunity for students’ literacy skills to increase across the year, encompassing an entire year’s worth of growth. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In the overview for Unit 3, the Teacher’s Edition states that “this unit extends students’ abilities to make evidence-based claims into the realm of literary analysis.” All reading, discussion, and literary analysis focuses on Ernest Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.”
- In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 2, students read “A Brief History of the Music Industry,” which measures at 1500L; this measurement places it outside even the Stretch Lexile Band for Grade 11-CCR. However, the text is written in a student-friendly way with short paragraphs making it easier to read which allows students to access this much more complex text.
The complexity of anchor texts support students’ proficiency in reading independently at grade level at the end of the school year as required by grade level standards. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Unit 1, Part 2, Activity 2, includes a speech by Colin Powell which has a Lexile of only 900 but is credited for the strong description and narration from Powell which provides the opportunity for students to explore his perspective. Unit 1, Part 3, Activity 1, introduces a passage by Maria Montessori and measures at 1270L which “should be challenging but accessible for most students with the scaffolding and support of the close reading process”. The final three texts in Unit 1, Part 4, Activity 2, all focus on the purpose and value of education in society. They range from a piece by Thomas Jefferson (1410 L) to FDR (1250L) to Arne Duncan (1200L).
- In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 3, students read “Why Your Brain Craves Music” which measures at 1350L; this measurement places it within the Stretch Lexile Band for Grade 9-10. In Unit 4, Part 3, Activity 2, students read “Why I Pirate” which measures at 1200L; the curriculum suggests that due to the complexity of the text that it be used for teacher modeling. Students also read the article, “Are Musicians Going Up a Music Stream without a Fair Payout?” This article measures at 1180L which falls within the Stretch Lexile Band for Grade 9-10.
Anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.
The instructional materials meet the expectations that texts and lesson materials are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level. Additionally, there are included tools and metrics to assist teachers in making their own text placements should they need to introduce a new text or text set into the materials. The curriculum provides quantitative information for both anchor texts and text sets excluding photographs, videos, and websites. The Teacher Edition explains the purpose and value of the texts in the Text Notes. For example, some texts are chosen for their value in reinforcing literary techniques while others were chosen as appropriate introductions to a particular time period. All texts were chosen because they were appropriate for 9th grade students while still allowing some flexibly for a variety of reading levels.
Examples of how the materials explain how texts are placed in the program include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 3, students read an excerpt from Helen Keller’s autobiography. Its Lexile Level is 1250L. The curriculum states, “This is a good first text for close reading because it is vivid and challenging, but it is also relatively short and accessible for most students” (17). It goes on to provide rationale for its purpose stating that the text can be used to show students how writers can use similar literary techniques in nonfiction that are found in fiction pieces with a focus on figurative language and characterization.
- In Unit 5, the curriculum provides the following rationale for text selection: “The texts...are offered in the form of text sets, in which texts are grouped together for instructional and content purposes” (443). Since students are not required to read every text, the curriculum also provides flexibility for teachers to make decisions about text selection based on student reading levels as the selections have different complexities. For this unit, Lexile levels are provided within the Text Notes for each text set (excluding photos, videos, and websites). For example for Unit 5, Part 1, Activity 2, students read “What is Terrorism?”; the curriculum describes this piece of writing as, “The text measures at 1200L and should be accessible to most ninth grade students” (455).
Anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading proficiency.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading proficiency. Students read a variety of texts including nonfiction personal narratives, fictional short stories, and nonfiction articles. Texts are accompanied by a Questioning Path Tool which provides both text-dependent and text-specific questions that guide them into a deeper reading of the text. Finally, each unit provides various student checklists and teacher rubrics that can be used to monitor progress throughout the year.
Instructional materials clearly identify opportunities and supports for students to engage in reading a variety of text types and disciplines and also to experience a volume of reading as they grow toward reading independence at the grade level. For example:
- Unit 1 is based on numerous non-fiction texts related to education in the United States and how it is changing. In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 3, students read Helen Keller’s The Story of My Life. The curriculum provides support for this reading via the Questioning Path Tool. This tool provides four levels of both text-dependent and text-specific questioning which include questioning, analyzing, deepening, and extending (page 18 of the Teacher’s Edition).
- Unit 3 is based on the close reading of Ernest Hemingway’s short story, “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” In Unit 3, Part 1, Activity 1, students are provided a Questioning Path Tool that not only guides them through the close reading, but it is a question from this tool that will serve as the basis for the writing of an Evidence-Based Claim.
- Unit 4’s reading includes a Common Source Set (virtual texts) that focuses on a particular area of investigation, “Music: What Role Does it Play in Our Lives?” This is given as a model of how a teacher can create source sets and recognizes the ever-changing nature of websites. Within the source sets are YouTube videos, internet-based articles, as well Gale Reference Library articles..
Materials also include checklists, rubrics, and student conference suggestions to assist in evaluating the development of literacy proficiency.
Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
Overall, the instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the expectations of indicators 1g through 1n. The materials support students as they grow their writing skills over the course of the year. High-quality, text-dependent questions and task support students as they grapple with materials, participate in discussions of content, engage in a variety of writing types, and demonstrate their learning with evidence-supported arguments. However, speaking and listening protocols are not fully outlined throughout the materials to support teachers and students. Teachers may also need to add additional instruction to cover the full range of writing standards required for narrative writing. Materials do not include explicit instruction targeted for grammar and convention standards.
Most questions, tasks, and assignments are text dependent/specific, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text dependent/specific and consistently support students’ literacy growth over the course of a school year.
The instructional materials include questions and tasks that require careful reading over the course of a school year, during which students are asked to produce evidence from texts to support claims. Materials introduce the text-dependent inquiry basis called the Questioning Path Tool, which provides opportunities for students to ask and use questions to guide their close examination of the text. The Questioning Path Tool progresses from intensive practice and support in developing text-specific questions to gradual release of responsibility as students learn to develop high-quality questions on their own, deepening their understanding of the text. These questions require students to return to the text for evidence to support their answers to questions about the roles of specific details, the meaning of specific phrases, character development, and vocabulary analysis. The process supports a text-centric curriculum and approach to multiple literacy skills.
Students work independently and collaboratively to respond to and generate text-specific questions. Also, writing tasks provide the opportunity for students to conduct more text-dependent work. Models can be modified for existing content (i.e., novels) owned by a district.
The tasks and assignments asked of students are appropriately sequenced and follow a consistent routine. The materials require students to closely read the text, drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 2, The Questioning Path Tool shows initial text-dependent questions that engage the surface level details, identifying the what: “What details stand out…?” and “What do I think this image is mainly about?” Students are then allowed an opportunity to deepen their understanding by moving toward text-specific questions that analyze the how: “How do specific details help me understand what is being depicted in the image?”
- The Questioning Path Tool templates and Reading Closely: Guiding Question handouts are provided with the materials to encourage students to create their own questions in four categories: questioning, analyzing, deepening, and extending. These tools are included in each unit.
- The materials also include text-specific questions.
- In Unit 1, Part 2, Activity 1, the Questioning Path Tool for the text, “The Story of My Life,” provides text-specific questions. One example is, “What does the figurative language phrase ‘a little mass of possibilities’ in the first paragraph suggest about how Keller at first saw herself as a student?”
- In Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 2, there are text-specific questions to accompany Plato’s Apology: “In Paragraph 3, Socrates says he is on trial because of a ‘certain kind of wisdom’. According to Socrates, what kind of wisdom does he not have? What does this suggest about the wisdom he does have?”
- In Unit 4, Part 3, Activity 2, students are asked to analyze a source’s perspective and bias as they develop sources for their research portfolio. The materials direct students to use the Guiding Questions handout from previous units for guidance. Specifically, the materials point to the “P” of the “LIPS” domains--Language, Ideas, Perspective, and Structure--in the Guiding Questions handout. The Perspective domain presents text-dependent, evidence-based questions for students. The question, “What details or words suggest the author’s perspective?” is a strong example of a stand alone text-dependent question. Other questions, such as, “How does the author’s perspective influence my reading of the text?”, rely on the provided follow-up instructions in the Deepening section of the Guiding Questions handout. This section asks students to support and “explain why and cite [...] evidence” from the text.
Students are supported in their literacy growth over the course of a school year. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Unit 1 culminates in a text-centered discussion in the Reading Closely for Textual Details: Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies Literacy Toolbox. The Instructional Notes explicitly ask students to “point out key words that indicate the author’s perspective,” as well as “ask the other participants to reference the texts in their comments.”
- In Unit 5, Part 1, Activity 2, students are asked to question the text without the typical modeling by the teachers, thus placing more of the responsibility on the student. The teacher Instructional Notes for this task indicate: “(The students) should be bringing useful questions from such handouts as the Guiding Questions and Assessing Sources handouts into their reading process, and they should not require prescriptive scaffolding. However, students will also be reading, analyzing, and evaluating complex arguments in this unit, perhaps for the first time. They may need the support of text-dependent questions that help them attend to the elements and reasoning within arguments.” The Instructional Notes include further information for the teacher to assist with “abbreviated versions of the model Questioning Tools found in other units.”
Teacher materials provide support for planning and implementation of text-dependent questions, tasks, and assignments. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Teacher Instructional Notes across the units include reminders to teachers to consistently direct students to use the text to support responses. These notes also encourage teachers to generate questions to model for the students.
- In Unit 3, Part 5, Activity 5, the Instructional Notes provide the following teacher instructions for a task so that students are provided with proper modeling. The notes read: “Return to the literacy skills criteria students have been using in Part 4: Forming Claims and Using Evidence. Talk through how you might apply these criteria in reviewing a draft evidence-based claims essay—beginning with general Guiding Review Questions, such as “What is the claim and how clearly is it expressed and explained? Is there enough, well-chosen evidence to support the claim?” Then model how a writer might develop a more specific text-based review question to guide a second review of the draft.”
- In Unit 5, Part 1, Activity 2, the Instructional Notes reference the EBA (Evidence-based Argument) Toolbox, which includes “a few model text-specific questions for deepening students’ understanding of specific aspects of the arguments they will read closely.”
Materials contain sets of sequences of text-dependent/ text-specific questions with activities that build to a culminating task which integrates skills to demonstrate understanding
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials containing sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent and text-specific questions and activities that build to a culminating task which integrates skills to demonstrate understanding.
The materials include quality culminating tasks which are supported with coherent sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks and are present across a year’s worth of material. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1, the tasks focus on Reading Closely for Textual Details which is a prerequisite skill and foundation for the work done in the following units. Each unit introduces a skill, such as making evidence-based claims and researching to deepen understanding, which is necessary for Unit 5 Building Evidence-Based Arguments: “What is the Virtue of Proportional Response?”
- In Unit 2, Part 5, Making Evidence-Based Claims (EBC), the culminating activity is a writing task, students compose “a rough draft of an evidence-based claim essay on their global claim.” The materials suggest that this task is “used as evidence of Literacy Skills associated with close reading…” To this point, close reading activities have been driven by the Questioning Path Tool - a handout utilized throughout the curricular materials with general text-dependent questions to text-specific questions. To describe the relevance of the tasks, the teacher’s edition addresses the materials by using the analogy of “practitioners in various fields are able to analyze and understand [works] because their training focuses them on details… [and this] often involves using questions to direct their attention.” This analogy is included to help students understand the process of building an EBC and completing the Forming EBC Tool. This is just one step in the process of completing the culminating task.
- In Unit 5, Part 2, Activity 7, students are tasked to use notes and annotations taken from previous activities to compose a culminating essay to demonstrate mastery of analyzing an argument. Student work is text-dependent; they use notes and annotations collected on the Delineating Arguments Tool practiced with the included text set or other materials as determined by the teacher. The Delineating Arguments Tool is preceded by the use of the Guiding Questions handout, remaining consistent with the text-dependent and text-specific basis of the entire curriculum.
Evidence that sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks throughout each unit prepare students for success on the culminating tasks includes, but is not limited to:
- In Unit 1, students are asked to read nine texts focusing on the theme, “Education is the New Currency.” In Unit 1, Part 5, Activity 3 of this unit, students are asked to participate in a text-centered discussion about how education is the great equalizer of the conditions of humans. To prepare for the culminating activity, students work collaboratively to review each other’s text-based explanations, discuss their assigned text to other texts within the unit, and write a comparative text-specific question for the discussion.
- In Unit 4, Part 5, students are asked to create a culminating research portfolio or produce an alternative research-based product. The activities leading up to this culminating task include the consistent Questioning Path Tool to explore a topic using various texts and to develop an Inquiry Question. The student- or class-generated Inquiry Question determines the texts used with the text-dependent Research Evaluation Tool. When using the Research Evaluation Tool, which consists of three checklists with guiding questions, students present materials gathered and studied to include in their portfolio and receive feedback from the teacher and peers about the credibility, relevance, and sufficiency of the evidence gathered.
The culminating tasks are varied and rich, providing opportunities for students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do in speaking and/or writing. The following are examples of this evidence:
- In Unit 3, the Unit Overview includes an Outline describing the five parts of the unit. The Outline describes Part 5: Developing Evidence-Based Writing: “Students develop the ability to express global evidence-based claims in writing through a rereading of the texts in the unit and a review of their previous work.” Students are expected to reread the texts in the unit and discuss with the class the development of Evidence-Based Claims (EBCs). They are also expected to create their own EBCs about literary technique and work collaboratively throughout the writing process. Finally, students participate in a class discussion of final evidence-based essays.
- In Unit 5, the culminating task consists of an argumentative essay. In preparation for this final task, students write short essays analyzing an argument. In Unit 5, Part 2, Activity 7: Writing to Analyze Arguments, the teacher’s Instructional Notes read: “Students use their notes, annotations, and tools (such as the Questioning Path Tool) to write paragraphs analyzing one of the arguments they have read thus far in the unit.”
Materials provide frequent opportunities and protocols to engage students in speaking and listening activities and discussions (small group, peer-to-peer, whole class) which encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria for materials providing frequent opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions (small groups, peer-to-peer, whole class) that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.
The materials promote twelve Academic Habits and twenty standards-aligned Literacy Skills. The materials intend for students “to develop, apply, and extend” Academic Habits “as they progress through the sequence of instruction.” Academic Habits include mental processes and communication skills sets such as, but not limited to, Preparing, Collaborating, Completing Tasks, Understanding Purpose And Process, and Remaining Open. Each Academic Habit is accompanied by general descriptors and most units include rubrics designed for teachers to conduct observational assessments of Academic Habits, thus providing another opportunity for assessment. By comparison, the Literacy Skills articulated by the materials are focused on reading and writing skills; Academic Habits are mental and communication-based processes.
In the Teacher’s Edition, Grade 9 Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies: User Guide, the publisher includes a table that “lists the anchor Common Core State Standards that are targeted within the five Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies units and indicates the Literacy Skills and Academic Habits that are derived from or are components of those standards.” The instructional materials focus on “SL.1: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.” Other speaking and listening standards within the strand are not targeted within the Developing Literacy Proficiencies units.
Throughout the curriculum, students are provided frequent opportunities to participate in evidence-based discussions. Many activities start with teacher-led, whole-class discussions to establish students’ first impressions with teachers modeling how to use evidence from text to support observations. When students dive deeper into the texts, they are often assigned to work in pairs to discuss claims and organize evidence. In other activities, the curriculum suggests that students work in teams to become experts, then jigsaw into new groups to share what they have learned. These discussions are text-specific and ask students to refer to this textual evidence while presenting claims and validating observations. While discussions are evidence-based, teachers and students are not provided with protocols or models for conversation. Conversation is a tool used throughout the curriculum, but is not ever explicitly taught or assessed.
The consistent design of the curriculum provides a focus on using textual evidence and contains sequenced tasks for most discussions to support the demonstration of academic vocabulary and analysis of syntax. This is maintained by the consistent use of a questioning path system and explicit modeling instructions for teachers to follow with students. At times, the Questioning Path Tool leads whole class discussions or between students in pairs and small-groups for specific purposes. For example, Unit 4 is focused on research skills and the questioning-based instruction promoted by the materials becomes inquiry-based discussions used by students grouped into research teams.
Materials provide multiple opportunities and questions for evidence-based discussions across the whole year’s scope of instructional materials. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 3, Part 4, Activity 6, “The class discusses their new EBC’s (Evidence-Based Claims) from Activity 5 and students listen actively to portions of the text being read or presented.” Students discuss the text and review the self-developed Questioning Paths. In pairs, students discuss their claims and organize evidence. Students also participate in a whole-class read aloud to help each other analyze claims and selected evidence.
- In Unit 4, the core question, “Music: What role does it play in our lives?” might increase student engagement. In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 1, the opening discussion in the Instructional Notes provides an opportunity for a discussion/question for “inquiry and research.” In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 2, specific instructions are given after viewing a video on how to help students think about topic areas that might be interesting to research. This is done through full-class discussion.
The opportunities provided do not always adequately address and promote students’ ability to master grade-level speaking and listening standards. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 3, during small group work utilizing Academic Habits, the teacher’s edition shares that students “might reflect on how well they have demonstrated the skills of preparing for discussions by reading and annotating the text and considering the questions that have framed discussion.” The Discussion Habits Checklist is available for teachers and students to access using the RC (Reading Closely) Literacy Toolbox. Similarly, in Unit 1, the Student Edition highlights skills and habits, such as questioning, collaboration, and clear communication; notably, the students are reminded of the following: “These skills and habits are also listed on the Student Literacy Skills and Discussion Habits Checklist, which you can use to assess your work and the work of other students.” The skills and habits address core standards specifically targeted by the publisher in Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies Units.
- In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 2, in the teacher’s edition, students in small groups “practice the thinking process by using the topic area and questions previously developed by the class and filling in the Tool’s second Area of Investigation section.” However, all the questions students are given after these instructions are questions that they are working on independently. The tie between the small group goal/organization and this activity is weak.
- In Unit 5, Part 1, Activity 4, “Students work in reading teams to develop a set of more focused text-specific questions…” Students can also work individually to review one of the background texts to find additional details. The note section suggests that students work in teams to become experts, then jigsaw into new groups to share what they have learned. Speaking and listening skills are not assessed. Students participate in a sharing out of ideas. In the activity, peers do not set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making or challenge ideas and conclusions of their peers as included in the CCSS.
Grade-level-appropriate opportunities occur for evidence-based discussions that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax within the materials, but the curriculum does not utilize the opportunities. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- On page xxxiii, the curriculum states that many decisions about the teaching of vocabulary are left up to the teacher. It also states that “activities and tools use vocabulary related to reading skills that students can apply while reading and writing.” Additionally, keywords in the Reading Closely and Making Evidence-Based Claims units’ texts “are highlighted and defined so that students and teachers can focus on them as needed.” This shows that the curriculum is not providing guidance regarding how to intentionally incorporate academic or text-specific vocabulary into instruction. (This wording is the same in all grade levels.) The instructional materials do not provide the guidance necessary to ensure students will demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
- In the Introduction for Unit 3, the teacher’s edition states a “skillful reader of a literary work pays attention to what authors do--the language, elements, devices, and techniques they use, and the choices they make that influence a reader’s experience with and understanding of the literary work.” While the development of student’s EBCs are grounded in this skillful reading, the same isn’t true for speaking/listening. For example, in Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 4, a reflection question asks about communicating ideas with specific evidence, but no focus is included on modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax, which could easily be incorporated into this rhetorical analysis.
- In Unit 5, Part 5, Activity 1, the activity concerns the editing and revision stages of the writing process. After allowing students time to process aspects of their writing, the activity provides reflection questions to guide discussions about the students’ drafts. The Text-Centered Discussion occurs in peer-editing pairs. Editing partners read, looking for “textual evidence that expresses the writer’s understanding of the issue” about which they are writing. At this point in the curriculum, and with modeling provided by the teacher, students could appropriately use academic vocabulary when providing feedback. The materials provide a description of the task, but not the protocol of the very explicit steps on how to be successful at the task. The opportunity is there, but the materials do not explicitly require students to use the vocabulary in their feedback. It could happen naturally, but is not directly stated as an expectation by the materials and, therefore, the teacher.
Materials support students' listening and speaking (and discussions) about what they are reading and researching (shared projects) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for the materials supporting students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and evidence.
Materials embed evidence-based academic discussions focused on listening and speaking skills in reading and writing processes. Students are often asked to engage in discussions about texts through activities such as note taking, annotating texts, and capturing what their peers say. Students then transfer the practice to their own writing through collaborative revision workshops with peers.
Speaking and listening instruction is applied frequently over the course of the year and includes facilitation, monitoring, and instructional supports for teachers. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1, Part 3, Activity 2, students discuss how the author’s use of language reflects his or her perspective on the subject. Students have to present evidence and connect their comments to the ideas of others. Students practice listening skills as they take notes, annotate their texts, and capture what peers say. The curriculum supports the development of listening and speaking skills with the formal and less formal versions of the Reading Closely Literacy Skills and Discussion Habits Rubrics.
- In Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 2, the teacher guides students to share ideas during a “brief discussion in which students volunteer something they learned about the speaker (Socrates).” Further guidance is offered in the Instructional Notes to assist the teacher in leading the discussion with follow-up questions to the students’ independent reading and to prepare them for the next step. An example of one such question is: “What words or sentences in the paragraph tell you this information?” Then, students transition into “the second guiding question: ‘What details or words suggest the author's perspective?’”
- In Unit 3, Part 2, Activity 2, students read aloud, "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" and continue to engage with the same guiding questions to elicit evidence of the author’s language, ideas, and use of supporting details. Support is provided by the Making EBC Tool and text-specific Questioning Path Tool.
- In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 2, students explore a research topic. Students watch a video and read a common text to stimulate thinking about what makes the topic interesting and to open up possible areas to investigate. After watching the video, small groups, and later the entire class, will summarize what they have learned through the video. Students will compare notes and note-taking strategies. Students then work in small teams to read an internet-based text and discuss what they already know about the text before they read it. Students will listen and participate as the class discusses how the source they just read relates to the topic and the video they have previously previewed.
- In addition, students are expected to exhibit the following behaviors during the Text-Centered Discussion:
- “Listening: Listen fully to what readers have observed; Consider their ideas thoughtfully; Wait momentarily before responding verbally.
- "Remaining Open: Avoid explanations or justifications for what they as writers have tried to do (no 'yes, but . . .' responses); Frame additional informal, text-based questions to further probe their readers’ observations.”
Materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing grade-appropriate writing (e.g. grade-appropriate revision and editing) and short, focused projects.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials including a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g., multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate. Throughout the units, the instructional materials require students to produce on demand short, informal writings and longer, independent process writing tasks and essays.
On-demand writing tasks can consist of completing the worksheets/handouts/tools from the Literary Toolboxes and evolve into students composing sentence-length, evidence-based claims and paragraphs. Students compose initial on-demand writing in pairs to become accustomed to the material’s Academic Habits or approach to revisions through informal collaborative small group and class discussions in Unit 2 to more formal Research Teams in Unit 4. Examples of on-demand writings include, but are not limited to:
- Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 4 is focused on increasing students’ close reading skills. In Part 1, students demonstrate their proficiency through discussions closely guided by their on-demand writing that occurs in the Questioning Path Tool handouts included in the Literacy Toolbox. For example, Activity 4 tasks students to follow the Guiding Questions provided in the tool to analyze details in a multimedia text, a TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson. There are multiple text-centered questions and the materials assign students to “write a few sentences explaining something they have learned.”
- In Unit 2, Part 4, Activity 2, students consider text-based review questions, and “articulate and share their text-based responses and constructive reviewers claims” that they have generated based on the reading.
- In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 2, students summarize their observations and understandings of a topic discussed in class and brainstorm potential areas of investigation as well as details about the topic to expand or increase understanding.
Opportunities for process writing tasks include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 2, Part 5, Activity 5, “students used a criteria-based checklist of feedback from peers in a collaborative review process to revise and improve their evidence-based claim essays.” Once students have completed the first drafts of their essays, they work in writing groups to complete two review and revision cycles. The first cycle focuses on the essay’s content or on evaluating and improving the content or quality of claims and evidence; the second cycle focuses on improving organization and expression and clarity of their writing.
- In Unit 4, Part 2, Activity 3, students are directed to “consult a librarian or media specialist and conduct web- or library-based searches” for additional sources to complete the culminating research writing assignment. The process writing for this is sequenced out beforehand with the Common Sources and Literacy Toolbox handouts specific to this unit. The peer-feedback, revision processes practiced in previous units is implemented again to develop and improve the students’ research essays. Part 5 focuses on research skills for the summative purpose of creating a research portfolio, written research narrative, or research-based product to present.
Materials provide opportunities for students to address different types/modes/genres of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Writing opportunities incorporate digital resources/multimodal literacy materials where appropriate. Opportunities may include blended writing styles that reflect the distribution required by the standards.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria for materials providing opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Writing is embedded throughout the curriculum; however, the writing instruction does not fully reflect the distribution of the standards, in particular the various elements of narrative writing, even though narrative writing is at times included as a follow-up reflection to longer research projects. The 9-12 CCSS state within narrative writing that students write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequence. In particular, students are to use narrative techniques such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters. Students are not provided opportunities to engage in narrative writing tasks allowing sufficient practice for specific narrative techniques as required by the standards.
The curriculum provides a variety of unit-specific checklists and rubrics so that students and teachers can monitor progress in literacy skills (including writing) and academic habits such as collaborating and clearly communicating. This curriculum is based in reading grade-appropriate texts and responding to these texts in both formal and informal writing.
Materials provide multiple opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply different genres/modes of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. While students encounter a variety of texts—speeches, essays, historical texts, TED talks—the writing that they are asked to do is not varied. While they write expository and argumentative pieces, they are not asked to write outside these genresExamples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 3, Part 5, Activity 1, students are considering the piece, “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” by Ernest Hemingway with respect to its content, as well as use of literary techniques. While they discuss these techniques in writing a global claim about literary techniques, there are no opportunities to also practice/write/develop narrative techniques such as dialogue, pacing, description, plot lines, or develop experiences, events, and/or characters as stated in the standards.
- In Unit 4, Part 5, Activity 2, the Teacher’s Edition states, “students write a reflective research narrative explaining how they came to their understanding of the topic, the steps they took to reach that understanding, and what they have learned about the inquiry process.” Instructional Notes are included to assist teachers in guiding students through the Activity Sequence as students “tell the ‘story’ of their search,” including the following reflective points:
- Their initial understanding of the topic of Music and its importance in our lives.
- Their culminating understanding or view of the topic.
- The steps they took to reach their evidence-based perspective.
- Their personal experience learning about and using the inquiry process to research the issues connected to the topics they have investigated.
In this type of writing, students will connect their ideas to the sources used during their research; however, due to the nature of this assignment, students are not able to use narrative techniques such multiple plots lines or sensory language to convey a vivid picture of characters. An example of this follows:
- In Unit 4, Part 5, Activity 2, the Instructional Notes relating to the narrative state, “Because this may be the first time in the Developing Core Proficiencies program sequence that students have written a narrative, they may want to consider the specific Expectations of CCSS W.3 at ninth grade…” and list these standards for the teacher. There is no additional guidance to assist teachers and ensure students have practiced and reached proficiency of all narrative techniques for the grade level.
Materials provide opportunities for students/teachers to monitor progress in writing skills. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 2, Part 3, Activity 1, the teacher’s edition states that students read “paragraphs 11-18 of Plato’s Apology, guided by a Guiding Question(s) from the model Questioning Path Tool and use the Forming EBC Tool to make an evidence based claim.” Following the reading, “students record key details, connections, and an initial evidence-based claim on the tool.” The Instructional Notes provide teachers with reminders in Part 3: Formative Assessment Opportunities: “Students should now be beginning to develop more complex claims about challenging portions of the text. Their Forming EBC Tool should demonstrate a solid grasp of the claim-evidence relationship, but do not expect precision in the wording of their claims.” Tools are provided to both teachers and students to assess Academic Habits.
- Each Part of Unit 3 ends with Formative Assessment Opportunities which incorporate writing skills ranging from Attending to Details and Identifying Relationships to claims and textual evidence and claims-evidence relationship writings.
- In Unit 3, Part 3, Activity 2, students compare the draft claims they have written and teachers facilitate a short comparative discussion that helps students reflect on the strengths and/or weaknesses of their claims.
- Unit 5 focuses on the argumentative mode of writing and addresses the standards’ persuasive appeals by continuing to focus on EBCs. It follows the same processes for multi-stage collaborative reviews for development and revisions in writing and opportunities for teachers to track students’ progress: formative assessments and rubric/checklists to observe demonstrated Literacy Skills and Academic Habits.
Where appropriate, writing opportunities are connected to texts and/or text sets (either as prompts, models, anchors, or supports).
- The Questioning Path Tool questions written by the students are always connected to a specific text.
- The Forming Evidence-Based Claims Tool asks students to respond to various texts to capture details and their thinking, as well as to identify how texts connect with one another.
- As part of Unit 1’s final assignments, students are asked to write a multi-paragraph “explanation of something you have come to understand by reading and examining your text.” Students are expected to use one of three final texts and present and explain the central idea, use quotations and paraphrases to support the central idea, explain how the central idea is connected to the author’s purpose, and explain a new understanding.
Materials include a number of writing opportunities that span the entire year. Each final writing task includes formal, usually multi-paragraph essay writing. Students also write throughout each unit in preparation for these final writing tasks. These shorter, informal writing tasks can be found in the form of independent writing, writing text-based explanations, and writing EBCs in pairs.
- In Unit 3, the curriculum provides a Student Making Evidence-based Claims Literacy Skills Checklist. This checklist allows the student to assess skills in three areas: Reading, Thinking, and Writing. Various checklists also appear in the other units and are modified to the skills being assessed in that unit.
- Unit 4 is focused on building students’ proficiency with research skills. The use of a common source set supports a teacher’s ability to track students’ progress while modeling research skills. Students practice research skills throughout the unit with guidance from the teacher and from peer reviews. The writing conducted fits into two products: (1) a research portfolio of sources and findings and (2) a reflective research narrative. As a third, optional, writing product, the material recommend students maintain a reflective journal throughout the process.
Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support sophisticated analysis, argumentation, and synthesis.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials including frequent opportunities for research-based and evidence-based writing to support analysis, argument, synthesis and/or evaluation of information, supports, claims.
Instructional materials include frequent opportunities for students to write evidence-based claims relating to various topics and in response to text sets organized around the topic. Students are asked to analyze text, develop claims, and support those claims with evidence from the text. Tools, such as Questioning Path Tools, Approaching Text Tools, and Analyzing Details Tools, are provided to help students analyze and organize text to be used in later writing. The checklists and rubrics also include criteria for Using Evidence which asks students to support explanations/claims with evidence from the text by using accurate quotations, paraphrases, and references. Opportunities for writing to sources include informal writing within the units and formal writing in the form of culminating tasks.
All units provide students the opportunity to engage with texts to compose evidence-based writing for the purpose of research, argumentative, or explanatory/informational writing. Optional activities are provided for the teacher to expand and include more writing opportunities and modes.
Texts include a variety of sources (print and digital). Materials meet the grade level demands of the standards listed for this indicator.
Materials provide frequent opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1, Part 4, Activity 4, students are tasked with writing a multi-paragraph essay with a central idea and explain how it is developed using text-based evidence gathered in previous activities with the Analyzing Details Tool.
- In Unit 2, Questioning Path Tools connect the reading to the writing students will do and the Deepening portion of this tool is strongly text dependent.
- In Unit 2, the Evidence-Based Claims (EBC) Tool helps students find evidence in the text to support the claims they are creating by providing a place for students to record the details they find. This tool is tied to the targeted Literacy Skill of Using Evidence. Part 1, Activity 4 tasks the teacher with modeling the Forming Evidence-Based Claims handout from the Literacy Toolbox. It is designed for students to “first note details that stand out” and then relate details to each other, explaining any connection between the text and another text, or the text and a reader’s experience. This activity leads students to begin developing claims that are supported by evidence. It is modeled first by teachers using the Supporting Evidence-Based Claims Tool.
- Unit 4 connects reading with writing by asking student to draw connections among key details and ideas within and across texts.
Writing opportunities are focused around students’ analyses and claims developed from reading closely and working with texts and sources to provide supporting evidence. Instructional notes are very specific with regards to helping students develop clear claims beginning with the definition of what a claim is and the explanation that a claim is only as strong as the evidence that supports it. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1, Part 2, Activity 5, “students write a short paragraph explaining their analysis of the text and reference (or list) specific textual details.” Students are asked to write a short paragraph of several clear, coherent, and complete sentences. Students are to explain their analysis of Text 5.
- In Unit 2, Part 5, Activity 5, “Students use a criteria-based checklist of feedback from peers in a collaborative review process to revise and improve their evidence-based claim essays.” Once students have completed the first drafts of their essays, they will work in writing groups to complete two review and revision cycles. The first cycle focuses on the essay’s content or on evaluating and improving the content or quality of claims and evidence; the second cycle focuses on improving organization and expression and clarity of their writing.
Materials provide opportunities that build students’ writing skills over the course of the school year. The teacher edition shares the Unit Design and Instructional Sequence: students are presented with a topic and “begin learning to read closely by first encountering visual images, which they scan for details, and then multimedia texts that reinforce the skills of identifying details and making text-based observations from those details.” (xxxviii). Therefore, students are provided an opportunity to learn about the topic before exposure to the more complex grade-level texts and then move forward to more challenging texts. Writing opportunities are varied over the course of the year. Examples of varied writing opportunities that build students' skills over the course of the year include, but are not limited to:
- Unit 1 focuses on increasing students’ abilities to read for detail and increase understanding of the text. Most of the frequent writing opportunities occur in completing the Literacy Toolbox handouts. The guiding questions provided by the handouts are text-dependent and require students to reference details from the text to support their understanding and explanation about the central idea of the text. This is not necessarily evidence-based; students are merely focused on explanatory or informational writing in this unit. In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 1, students are introduced to the topic through an analogy from another field.
- All the activities in Unit 1, build to a two-stage culminating activity. Students will do the following: 1) Analyze one of three related texts and draft a multi-paragraph explanation of their text, and 2) Lead and participate in a comparative discussion about the three texts. Students are writing informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. In addition, students are drawing evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
- Unit 4, Part 5, Activity 4 is an optional activity for students to compose a multimedia presentation or formal essay to communicate a perspective. The materials suggest various opportunities for writing modes to be addressed using EBCs--informational presentation, a research-based explanation, a thesis-driven argument, or Op-Ed piece. The summative writing assignment for the unit is a reflective research narrative. This unit incorporates much of the expectations for this indicator.
Materials include instruction and practice of the grammar and conventions/language standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application in context.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria for materials including instruction of the grammar and conventions/language standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application context.
The materials present tables in the initial overview of each unit and sub-sections outlining the alignment to Common Core State Standards. The materials are focused on select standards for the reading, writing, and speaking and listening standards and do not state a direct alignment to the language standards. However, the materials do provide opportunities for students to demonstrate some, but not all, language standards. This occurs in the form of reading and demonstrating understanding of the text and intentions of word choices by the authors. The provided rubrics direct students and teachers to expect standard English language conventions and punctuation to be demonstrated in writing assignments. However, the materials are not as specific for these expectations as specified by the Common Core State Standards for language conventions. The materials do not clearly provide opportunities for students to practice all language and grammar expectations outlined by national college-and-career readiness standards.
The materials promote and build students’ ability to apply conventions and other aspects of language within their own writing. Instructional materials provide opportunities for students to grow their fluency language standards through practice and application. The materials do not include explicit instruction of all grammar and conventions standards for Grade 9 and do not include Conventions of Standard English, Knowledge of Language, or Vocabulary Acquisition and Use as specific CCSS Anchor Standards Targeted in Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies Units. Evidence to support this rationale include, but are not limited to:
- In the Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies: User Guide, the instructional materials provide documentation for the Alignment of Targeted CCSS with OE Skills and Habits. Reading standards 1-10, writing standards 1-9, and SL.1 are included. No language standards are listed.
- In Literacy Skills, “Using Conventions” explains “effective sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling to express ideas and achieve writing and speaking purpose" including “writing and speaking clearly so others can understand claims and ideas.” In Unit 1, the Targeted Literacy Skills state that students will “learn about, practice, develop, and demonstrate foundational skills necessary to read closely, to participate actively in text-centered questioning and discussion, and to write text-based explanations." They align the unit goals with CCSS ELA Literacy W.4—produce clear and coherent writing.
- There are no opportunities for direct instruction of grammar and conventions/language standards. For example, in Unit 1, Part 4, Activity 4, instructions in the teacher’s edition state, “students’ writing can be reviewed in relationship to the specific grade-level expectations for writing standard 2 (explanatory writing), especially if students have been working on writing explanations in previous units and are reading for more formal feedback.” Within that standard, the teacher’s edition lists items a-f of which d states “use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage, the complexity of the topic”; and e states “establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.” No specific instruction for these skills has been attended to in the materials.
- On the Attending to Details handout, under “analyzing details” there are some specific questions under “Language and Structure” for students to keep in mind, such as “Authors use language or tone to establish a mood” and “Authors use a specific organization to enhance a point or add meaning” but while this tool may make students more aware of those moves/rhetorical choices within the writing they are reading, they are not linked to instruction of grammar and conventions.
- Unit 2 does not provide the instruction or opportunities necessary for students to master the use of parallel structure or the use of various types of phrases and clauses to convey specific meaning or add variety to writing or presentation. CCSS.ELA.Literacy.L.9-10.2 requires that students demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing. Unit 2 does not provide the instruction or opportunities necessary for students to master the use of a semicolon to link independent clauses or the use of a colon to introduce a list. Spelling is also not addressed.
- Unit 3 states that it provides “several opportunities for students to apply and develop literacy skills,” including using conventions. However, instruction does not directly support this. For example, in Unit 3, Part 3, Activity 3, the work with developing an evidence-based claim includes five steps:
- Reflecting on how one has arrived at the claim,
- Breaking the claim into parts,
- Organizing supporting evidence in a logical sequence,
- Anticipating what an audience will need to know in order to understand the claim,
- Planning a line of reasoning that will substantiate the claim.
All instruction and accompanying tools are in support of practicing, developing, and writing EBCs. For example, in Unit 3, Part 4, Activity 8, “Using Peer Feedback to Revise a Written EBC, peers give feedback on clarity of the claim, the defensibility of the claim, the use of evidence, and the organization. No feedback is listed for conventions.
- For Unit 4, the instructional materials provide guidance on How This Unit Aligns with CCSS for ELA and Literacy; primary alignments include CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7-9, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2-5. Supporting alignments include CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.1-4, 6, and 9. No language standards are included. Unit 4 does not provide the instruction or opportunities necessary for students to master the use of parallel structure or the use of various types of phrases and clauses to convey specific meaning or add variety to writing or presentation (CCSS.ELA.Literacy.L.9-10.1.A-B). Unit 4 does not provide the instruction or opportunities necessary for students to master the use of a semicolon to link independent clauses or the use of a colon to introduce a list. Spelling is also not addressed (CCSS.ELA.Literacy.L.9-10.2.A-C).
- Unit 5 culminates in writing an argumentative essay and listed in the targeted literacy skills is “using effective sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling to express ideas and achieve writing and speaking purposes. In Unit 5, Part 1, Activity 5, there is a formative assessment as a building block for students’ final argument where they write a 1-3 paragraph explanation of their multi-part claim. It is supposed to “represent their best thinking and clearest writing, but beyond that indicator, there is no built-in instruction or sense of how that looks with regards to grammar and conventions.
- In Unit 5, Activity 1, Part 5, students work on strengthening writing collaboratively. The teacher’s edition references Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing by John R Trimble. One of his four essentials is “Use confident language—vigorous verbs, strong nouns, and assertive phrasing.” In the remaining Activities 2-5, there is focus on the following areas:
- Content: Ideas and Information,
- Organization: Unity, Coherence, and logical sequence,
- Support: Integrating and citing evidence,
- Additional Rounds of Focused review and revision.
While grammar and convention mistakes and missteps could be picked up in these rounds of revision, the materials do not include any direct lessons or instructions.
Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks
The instructional materials meet the expectations of Gateway 2. Texts and tasks are organized around topics and themes that support students' acquisition of academic vocabulary. Comprehension of topics and concepts grow through text-connected writing and research instruction. The vocabulary and independent reading plans may need additional support to engage students over a whole school year.
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The instructional materials meet the expectations of the building knowledge criteria. Texts and tasks are organized around topics and themes that support students' growing academic vocabulary and understanding and comprehension of topics and concepts. The materials partially support a comprehensive vocabulary plan and independent reading plan over the course of the year. The materials include cohesive writing and research instruction that is interconnected with texts to grow students' literacy skills by the end of the school year.
Texts are organized around a topic/topics or themes to build students' knowledge and their ability to comprehend and analyze complex texts proficiently.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that texts are organized around a topic(s) or themes to build students’ knowledge and their ability to read and comprehend complex texts proficiently. Grade 9 materials are grouped around topics such as Unit 1’s focus on the changing dynamic of education in the United States, Unit 4’s focus on the role of music in our lives, and Unit 5’s focus on terrorism. This intense focus builds not only literacy skills but students’ content knowledge. Since the texts are appropriately complex, these texts help increase students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts. Also, the instructional materials allow students to develop a range of reading and writing skills. Texts are set up to increase in complexity both in regards to the reading difficulty, as well as the writing tasks complexity.
Evidence that the materials meet the criteria include, but are not limited to:
- The overview for Unit 1 “Develops students’ abilities to read closely for textual details” and “lays out a process for approaching, questioning and analyzing texts that help readers focus on key textual characteristics and ideas.” The theme to engage students in the program and skills is “Education is the new currency”; it “presents students with a series of texts related to the changing dynamic of education in the United States.” Students are offered a variety of texts in this unit ranging from photographs to an excerpt of Helen Keller’s autobiography to a TED talk.
- The sole text for Unit 2 is Plato’s Apology. The entire unit focuses on the topic of Socrates’s Trial where he is charged with corrupting the youth and being impious toward the gods.
- The texts for Unit 3 are in the pursuit of making evidence-based claims (EBC’s) about literary technique and use Ernest Hemingway’s short story, “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” Three key sets of questions are introduced in Part 1, Activity 1:
- What specific aspects of the author’s craft am I attending to? (Through what lenses will I focus my reading?)
- What choices do I notice the author making and what techniques do I see the author using? What textual details do I find as evidence of those choices and techniques?
- How do the author’s choices and techniques influence my reading of the work and the meaning that emerges for me? How can I ground my claims about meaning in specific textual evidence?
- The texts for Unit 4 all relate to the topic “Music: What Role Does It Play in Our Lives?” While most of the unit texts are in the form of online articles, the variety of perspectives and subtopics increases student engagement. Unit 4 texts include, but are not limited to:
- “Imagine Life Without Music” - Video
- “A Brief History of the Music Industry” - Article
- “What is Online Piracy?” - Article
- “Why Your Brain Craves Music” - Article
- “25 Most Important Civil Rights Moments in Music History” - History
- “Why I Pirate” - Article
- The topic area and texts for Unit 5 focus on the theme of terrorism and what is meant by terrorism. The Unit overview states, “the texts in this unit are offered in the form of texts sets, in which texts are grouped together for instructional and content purposes.” Part 1 of Unit 5 introduces students to the concept of evidence-based argumentation and students read and write about a variety of information texts to build an understanding of terrorism as a definition and concept. In Part 2, students analyze arguments through close-reading skills and terminology used in delineating argumentation. Students read and analyze arguments associated with terrorism, response to terrorism, and terrorism policy. Part 3 deepens students’ abilities to read and think about arguments.
Materials contain sets of coherently sequenced higher order thinking questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts in order to make meaning and build understanding of texts and topics.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain sets of coherently sequenced higher order thinking questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts in order to make meaning and build understanding of texts and topics.
In the User Guide for the 9th grade instructional materials, the teacher’s edition states that “at the heart of the Odell education approach to teaching closer reading is an iterative process for questioning texts that frames students’ initial reading and then guides them as they dig deeper to analyze and make meaning. This questioning process differs from traditional text questioning in that its goal is not to “find the answer, but rather to focus student attention on the author’s ideas, supporting details, use of language, text structure, and perspective—to examine a text more closely and develop a deeper understanding” (xxii). The tools included in the Odell curriculum are the Reading Closely Guide, the Guiding Questions Handout, the Questioning Path Tool, the Approaching the Text Tool, the Analyzing Details Tool, and the Forming Evidence-Based Claims Tool. Consistently throughout the Grade 9 instructional materials, higher order thinking questions are provided in the form of both text-dependent and text-specific questions. These questions are embedded into Questioning Path Tools that are used by students as guides when analyzing texts. These questions help students make meaning of what they are reading and build understanding of multiple, related texts as they prepare for each unit’s culminating task. The use of the plethora of tools, questions, and tasks not only provides evidence of student understanding of definitions and concepts, but also helps students make meaning and builds understanding of texts.
Evidence that supports this rationale includes, but is not limited to:
- The curriculum provides the Reading Closely: Guiding Questions Handout which serves as guidance when analyzing texts that do not have provided, text-specific Questioning Path Tools. The Reading Closely: Guiding Questions Handout divides questions into four categories: approaching, questioning, analyzing, and deepening. Questions are provided for each section to address language, ideas, perspective, and structure.
- In Unit 2, Part 3, Activity 2, the curriculum provides questions that require students to analyze language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure of Plato’s Apology. Questions include:
- "In paragraph 13, Socrates says he is 'convinced that I never deliberately harmed anyone.'... Socrates claims that his accusers have been found guilty of the truth. What does this language reveal about Socrates’s perspective of himself and his audience?
- In paragraph 11, Socrates states that he will give his defense, 'not for my own sake...but for your sake.' What details does Socrates give to support this stance? How does Socrates arrive at such a conclusion?
- In what ways are ideas, events, and claims linked together in the text"
- Unit 3 develops students’ abilities to make evidence-based claims (EBCs) about literary techniques through activities based on a close reading of Ernest Hemingway’s short story, “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” It is emphasized in the introduction to the unit that students come to understand that in a great literary work…”all aspects are significant and have some bearing on the total significance of the work.” The close reading of the text is guided by these broad questions:
- "What specific aspect(s) of the author’s craft am I attending to? (Through what lens(es) will I focus my reading?
- What choices do I notice the author making, and what techniques do I see the author using? What textual details do I find as evidence of those choices and techniques?
- How do the author’s choices and techniques influence my reading of the work and the meaning that emerges for me? How can I ground my claims about meaning in specific textual evidence?"
- In Unit 3, Part 3, Activity 4, students use text-specific questions to discuss a section of the text and produce a second EBC. Using both their Questioning Path Tool and the Forming EBC Tool, students reflect on how Hemingway’s use of techniques affects the reader’s experience of the story. In Unit 3, Part 5, Activity 4, students independently draft their final EBC essay which will be evaluated for their demonstration of three key expectations and criteria:
- Demonstrate an accurate reading and insightful analysis of the text.
- Develop a supported claim that is clearly connected to the content of the text.
- Successfully accomplish the five key elements of a written EBC.
- Unit 4 focuses on student research. For this unit, the curriculum recommends that the Guiding Questions Handout be used in conjunction with the blank Questioning Path Tool. The Guiding Questions Handout provides questions that require students to analyze language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts so that they can make meaning of the texts. Questions include:
- "What do the author’s words and phrases cause me to see, feel, or think?
- How might I summarize the main ideas of the text and the key supporting details?
- In what ways are ideas, events, and claims linked together in the text?
- What do I notice about the structure of specific elements (paragraphs, sentences, stanzas, lines, or scenes)?"
- Unit 5’s focus, pedagogy and instructional sequence “are based on the idea that students (and citizens) must develop a mental model of what effective—and reasoned—argumentation entails.” The unit focuses on learning about and applying academic concepts related to argumentation: issue, perspective, position, premise, evidence, and reasoning. The topic area of the unit and the tests focus on terrorism. New tools are introduced to support students which are specific to argumentation: Evidence-Based Arguments Terms Handout; Delineating Arguments Tool; Model Arguments: and Evaluating Arguments Tool. In Unit 5, Part I, Activity 4’s Instructional Notes teachers are told to have students use questions from their Reading Closely for Textual Details and Researching to Deepen Understanding tools to frame their own, more focused questions about the issue and texts. They use these questions to “drive a deeper reading of the previous texts or of additional texts providing more background and perspectives on the topic.” Unit 5, Part II, Activity 5 presents students with different perspectives, positions, and arguments for them to read and analyze. “Students will use these texts to move from guided to independent practice of the close-reading skills associated with analyzing an argument” (485).
Materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent and text-specific questions and tasks that require students to build knowledge and integrate ideas across both individual and multiple texts.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent and text-specific questions and tasks that require students to build knowledge and integrate ideas across both individual and multiple texts. The curriculum provides both text-dependent and text-specific questions to support students analysis as they read texts. These questions are provided through Questioning Path Tools and the Guiding Questions Handout. These questions guide teachers as they support student growth in analyzing language, determining main ideas and supporting evidence, identifying author’s purpose and point of view, and analyzing structure of text.
Both the student work with individual and multiple texts and teacher materials provide support in growing analytical skills of students.Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Unit 2 develops students’ abilities to make evidence–based claims (EBCs) based on a close reading of Plato’s Apology of Socrates. Students use a question-based approach to read and analyze the text, building and applying learning in the Reading Closely unit.
- In the Questioning Path Tool (Part I, Activity 2) over paragraphs 1-3, both text dependent (“What does Socrates’s use of the word slandered reveal about his position? How does Socrates make it clear he is innocent?”) and text-specific (“In paragraph 2, why does Socrates ask a question to himself as if the audience asked him? How does this paragraph related to the first and third paragraphs? Why would Socrates pretend the audience is asking him questions?) are included.
- In Part 2, Activity 2, instructional notes guide teachers through the reading of paragraphs 4-10 of Plato’s piece. “Considering the question and the claim, students should search first for literal details about what the oracle says and how Socrates responds. The questions in the Analyzing and Deepening stages of the model Questioning Path Tool should then help them read and annotate the text looking for additional details, words, and images that further reveal Socrates’s understanding of the oracle’s claim."
- The Instructional Notes in Part 4, Activity 2 invite teachers to model with a draft paragraph to help students work with reading a written draft of an EBC.
- Unit 4 focuses on student research. While the instructional materials do not provide a specific Questioning Path Tool for each recommended text, they do provide a blank Questioning Path Tool that students and/or teachers could design for each source; the materials recommend that the Guiding Questions Handout be used as a guide when using this blank tool (page 420 of the Teacher’s Edition); the Guiding Questions Handout provides sample text-dependent questions such as, “What do you think the text is mainly about - what is discussed in detail?” and “What evidence supports the claims in the text, and what is left uncertain or unsupported?”
- Unit 4 includes a common source set to help students explore the question/theme “Music: What Role Does it Play in Our Lives?” In Part I, Activity 2, while the teacher leads a class exploration of a topic, students independently explore the research topic. Using the Guiding Questions Handout, students reflect on the video “Imagine Life Without Music” by answering three questions: "What new ideas or information do I find in the text? What ideas stand out to me as significant or interesting? How do the text’s main ideas relate to what I already know, think, or have read?" As students are building their own source set in Part 2, Activity 4 asks them to assess the sources by considering three key factors:
- Accessibility and interest: How readable and understandable is the source for the researcher and how interesting or useful does it seem to be?
- Credibility: How trustworthy and believable is the source, based on what the research knows about its publisher, date of publication, author (and author’s perspective), and purpose?
- Relevance and richness: How closely connected is the source to the topic, Area of Investigation, and Inquiry Path(s)? How extensive and valuable is the information in the source?
- Part 5 provides the opportunity to analyze across multiple texts by asking students to communicate an evidence-based perspective. Activity 2 asks students to write a reflective research narrative explaining how they came to their understanding of the topic, the steps they took to reach that understanding, and what they have learned about the inquiry process.
The questions and tasks support students' ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that the questions and tasks support students’ ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening). The overall curriculum, as well as each unit within, systematically builds on reading, writing, listening and speaking skills to support students in achieving the tasks included. Questions and tasks, specifically designed to lead up to the culminating task for each unit, support students in building towards independence in their work and demonstrating knowledge of a topic. While reading and writing tend to be the focus of these tasks, speaking and listening are incorporated into not only the culminating tasks but also the activities leading up to them. Students are provided multiple tools, such as the Approaching Texts Tool and the Organizing Evidence-based Claims Tool, that provide guidance for students as they read texts and begin writing about those texts. These tools serve as formative assessments that help teachers determine whether or not students have the skills necessary to complete the culminating tasks.
Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Unit 1’s culminating task asks students to become text experts, write a text-based explanation, and lead/participate in a text-centered discussion. In the first part of the culminating task, students are required to “become an expert about one of three final texts in the unit”; in this section, students build and demonstrate their knowledge through reading. In the second part of the culminating task, students are required “to plan and draft a multi-paragraph explanation” of something they came to understand by reading and examining their texts; this section focuses on using writing to demonstrate their understanding of the topic. The final part of the culminating task requires students to “prepare for and participate in a final discussion;” this section allows students to demonstrate comprehension and knowledge through speaking and listening. The instructional materials also provide questions and tasks throughout the unit that serve as formative assessment opportunities. For Unit 1, Part 2, the instructional materials suggest that the Approaching Texts Tools for Texts 2 and 5 be used as formative assessments to gauge students’ use of questioning to focus reading, ability to annotate effectively, and ability to select details.
- Unit 2’s activities focus on a close reading of Plato’s Apology of Socrates. The teacher’s edition describes the sequence of learning activities as supporting “the progressive development of the critical reading and thinking skills involved in making evidence-based claims (EBCs).” Parts 1 and 2 focus on close reading and forming and supporting EBCs as readers, using Questioning Path Tools for additional support in this work. In Part 2, Activities 3-5, students work in pairs, as well as have class discussions, a process the teacher’s edition describes as helping to “develop a class culture of supporting all claims, including oral critiques, with evidence” (153). Part 3 focuses on preparing to express written EBCs by organizing evidence and thinking. Finally, Parts 4 and 5 task students with communicating EBCs in paragraphs and essays. This process begins with modeling of an EBC in Part 4, Activities 1 and 2, with students continuing this work in Activities 3-8 in pairs, class discussion and peer feedback. In Part 5, students work more independently to craft their EBC essays and work through a two-stage collaborative review and revision process.
- Unit 3’s culminating task asks students to read the final section of text independently, develop an EBC, and draft a multi-paragraph essay. This final task’s main focus is reading and writing. In the first part of the final assignment, students read and annotate the final section of Hemingway’s short story and then compare notes with other students. With the aid of the Forming EBC Tool and the Organizing EBC Tool, students then write a one- or two-paragraph draft of their claim using the Writing EBC Handout. These tools are used as guides for students during the process; they also allow teachers to gauge student readiness and provide assistance if students are not “on track” before they begin drafting their multi-paragraph essays. In the second part of this final assignment, students write a multi-paragraph essay about the cumulative effects of a literary technique that Hemingway uses. Students then use a Forming EBC Tool and an Organizing EBC Tool to begin organizing ideas and evidence. These Tools can also be used as formative assessments to ensure that students are ready to begin their final essays. After drafting the essays, students review and improve their drafts through a collaborative process.
- Unit 4 “develops explorative proficiency: researching to deepen understanding.” Using the question/theme “Music: What Role Does it Play in Our Lives?”, students collaboratively explore a topic, reading to gain background knowledge and choose an area of investigation. From there in Part 2, they focus on the “essential skills for assessing annotating, and making notes on sources to answer inquiry questions." In Part 3, students make an EBC and analyze key sources. In Part 4 they review and evaluate their materials and analysis, and in Part 5 they organize their research and synthesize their analysis to create a research-based product.
- Students can choose to write a reflective research narrative or do a multimedia presentation. Students keep a research portfolio along the way and “these products can be used as evidence for the development of the full range of targeted Literacy Skills and Academic Habits” (401).
- Unit 5’s culminating task asks students to read a collection of informational texts, develop a supported position on an issue, and write a multi-paragraph essay making a case for that position. Like Unit 3, Unit 5’s culminating task’s main focus is reading and writing. Students are asked to review previously read texts and the claims they formed earlier in the unit along with evidence to support those claims. Students then use a Delineating Arguments Tool to plan their essays. This tool serves as a formative assessment and can be reviewed by the teacher to determine if students are ready to move on to drafting their argumentative essay. Before final publication, students are encouraged to “use a collaborative process with other students to review and improve” their drafts."
Materials include a cohesive, consistent approach for students to regularly interact with word relationships and build academic vocabulary/ language in context.
The materials for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria that materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts.
While the curriculum provides opportunities for students to increase their vocabulary, materials do not provide teacher guidance outlining a cohesive, year-long vocabulary development component. The curriculum states, “Although leaving many decisions about the teaching of vocabulary to the teacher, the program provides opportunities for students to increase their vocabulary in areas related to specific content and fundamental to overall literacy” (xxxiii). Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Unit 1, Part 2, Activity 1 asks students to read "The Story of My Life" by Helen Keller. The curriculum identifies and defines a number of vocabulary that might be unfamiliar to students. However, the only vocabulary instruction provided comes in the form of questions such as, “How do specific words or phrases influence the meaning of the text?” or “What language does she use to describe the brook and the river and how do the words help me think about the differences between the two?”
- Unit 3’s sole text is “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” Teachers are directed to find this source on the internet; therefore, unfamiliar vocabulary are not identified or defined. In Unit 3, Part 3, Activity 1, the only vocabulary instruction is provided via questions such as, “What details and words suggest the narrator’s perspective?”
- Unit 5, Part 1, Activity 2 asks students to read “Terrorists of Freedom Fighters: What’s the Difference?” Teachers are directed to find this source on the internet; therefore, unfamiliar words are not identified or defined. The only vocabulary instruction for this text is provided by the question, “The author uses the word perception to explain the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter. What does he mean by 'perception' and how does this contrast with a 'metaphysical difference'?”
Materials contain a year long, cohesive plan of writing instruction and practice which support students in building and communicating substantive understanding of topics and texts.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain a yearlong, cohesive plan of writing instruction and tasks which support students in building and communicating substantive understanding of topics and texts.
Within every unit, students practice writing and speaking from sources. The mode of writing they practice, the process they use, and the independence they are given varies based on the focus of the unit and where the unit is placed in the year. Students use graphic organizers to develop short sentences and paragraphs that communicate their thinking as they read texts. Students write formal paragraphs and short expository essays. Students then break claims into component premises and develop arguments. By the end of the year, students plan, write, and publish thesis-driven academic arguments, making the case for a position related to texts and their content.
The collaboration workshop is a question-based approach for developing writing. Students work through a process that is collaborative, question-based, and criteria-driven. Students are taught to think of essays as a process rather than a product and that conversation, contemplation, consideration, and revision are part of the process.
The following learning principles are used to facilitate student writing development:
- Independence: Students are encouraged to be reflective and develop their own writing process rather than following the writing process in a rote and mechanical way.
- Collaboration: Students are encouraged to seek and use constructive feedback from others.
- Clear Criteria: Criteria is provided to describe the essential characteristics of a desired writing product.
- Guiding Questions: Students are expected to use guiding and text-based questions to promote close reading and the development of their drafts.
- Evidence: Students use and integrate evidence through references, quotations, or paraphrasing.
Each writing activity includes a teacher demonstration lesson and class time is dedicated for students to free write, experiment, draft, revise, and edit their writings. Students engage in discussions surrounding their writings and ask and answer questions about their writing. Students are also provided multiple opportunities to read aloud and share their writings throughout the process to receive feedback. The writing process moves through an increasingly focused sequence of activities, such as getting started, thinking, organization, evidence, connecting ideas, expression, final editing, and publication.
Materials include a progression of focused, shared research and writing projects to encourage students to develop and synthesize knowledge and understanding of a topic using texts and other source materials.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials include a progression of focused, shared research, and writing projects to encourage students to synthesize knowledge and understanding of a topic using texts and other source materials. Grade 9 provides research opportunities throughout the year’s instructional materials. Research skills are built into several contexts and culminating tasks, representing both short and long projects. In preparation for these final tasks, students read and write about texts and participate as both speakers and listeners in class discussions. Units 1, 4, and 5 provide multiple texts that give students access to a variety of sources about a topic. Many resources are available for students and teachers to learn, practice, apply, and transfer skills as they gain proficiency of the skills necessary for research.
Each unit ends with a culminating writing task. Unit 1 asks students to write a text-based explanation. In Units 2 and 3, students write global evidence-based claims (EBC) essays. In Unit 4, students write a reflective research narrative. In Unit 5, students write an evidence-based argumentative essay. These writing assignments, all requiring evidence from text, increase in difficulty as the year progresses. The expectations for student independence also increase as the school year progresses. Specific details of writing tasks include:
- Throughout Unit 1, students read a variety of texts centered around the topic of the Education in the United States. For example, in Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 4, students analyze the TED Talk “Changing Education Paradigms.” This video helps students view education from a different perspective than they are used to. They learn about education reform and the barriers of traditional education. During this activity, student are conducting mini-research as they watch the video, write about the video in small groups, and analyze the video during a class discussion. This text and the work they accomplished will serve as a resource for the culminating writing task.
- Unit 2 is centered on research skills such as making EBCs and close reading “not simply to report information expected by their teachers” but instead learning to approach texts “with their own authority and the confidence to support their analysis” (126). The primary CCSS for Unit 2 is RI.1 and W.9b—“cite evidence to support analysis of explicit and inferential textual meaning”—both crucial to research. The Learning Progression of Unit 2 supports the progressive development of critical reading and thinking skills in making EBCs and culminates in an Evidence Based Writing. In Part 5, Activity 1, students return to the end of Socrates’s speech and do a closer rereading of these lines from the end of the text:“When my sons grow up, punish them by getting in their face as I’ve gotten in yours. If you think they care more about money or anything else than they do about virtue; and if they take themselves to be very important when they aren’t rebuke them for, the way I’ve rebuked you, for not paying attention to what they should and for thinking they’re important when they’re worthless.” From there they consider these lines within the context of the theme “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Activities 2-6 move from framing global EBCs to a class discussion of final EBC essays.
- Unit 3 is focused on the text, “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” The unit’s activities are designed to prepare students for the culminating writing task which is a global evidence-based essay on literary technique. For example in Unit 3, Part 2, Activity 1, “students independently read paragraphs 18 through 106 and use the Supporting EBC Tool to look for evidence to support a claim…” Teachers are provided lesson guidance through the Instructional Notes and are encouraged to model the use of the tools students will use throughout the instructional materials as they conduct research. Students are already beginning to organize the evidence for their writing as they use the Supporting EBC Tool and the Forming EBC Tool. These tools help students find and record evidence that will be used later in the unit’s final writing. This activity is followed by a read aloud and class discussion of the text.
- Unit 4 is completely grounded in research and is based on four components: choosing a topical area of interest to research, conducting a research process, compiling a research portfolio, and communicating a researched perspective. The Parts of Unit 4 are sequenced to facilitate a progression of research skills. Part 1 initiates Inquiry with an introductory discussion of research using the question/focus, “Music: What Role Does it Play in Our Lives?” Part 2 is focused on gathering information and teaches students to conduct searches and assess and annotate sources. Resources available to students in Part 2 include the Research Frame Tool and the Taking Notes Tool. Part 3 focuses on deepening understanding, helping students draw personal conclusions about their Area of Investigation. The tools available for student in the Student Edition are the Forming Evidence-Based Claims Research Tool, the Analyzing Details Tool and the Research Frame Tool. Finally Part 4 focuses on “Finalizing Inquiry” where students evaluate research and, in Activity 3, “review and discuss their Research Frames and researched materials to determine relevance, coherence, and sufficiency” (383).
- Unit 5 is a research-based unit where students learn about terrorism. The instructional materials are designed so that students learn that terrorism is “a complex topic with many perspectives and positions - not a simple pro and con arena for debate - which enables the teacher and students to approach and study the issue from many possible angles” (443). Unit 5 consists of five parts that serve as short research-based assignments that build toward the final evidence-based argumentative essay. In Unit 5, Part 2, Activity 3, students, in teams, read and describe arguments and write EBCs. Questioning Path Tools serve as support for students, and Text Notes are provided to support the teacher as he/she helps students become more independent during the research process (481-483).
Materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria that materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either inside or outside of class. Students regularly engage in independent reading after the teacher models Academic Habits and processes guided by the materials.
Independent reading, as noted in the evidence, includes opportunities for reading time outside of class and shorter periods of independent reading to provide an initial understanding or focused analysis of specific literary techniques. Students independently practice Literacy Skills while reading and analyzing texts. This includes a range of text types: visual-based texts to printed texts of multiple genres. Students do read portions of text independently as close reading activities at various Lexile levels. However, there is no detailed schedule for independent reading to occur, in or outside of class time, but general approximations for specific purposes. The majority of independent reading occurs during class. Student accountability occurs during class discussions and the materials provide an Academic Habits checklist to support the student and teacher during text-centered discussions. The materials provide Academic Habits checklists for students to self- and peer-assess during academic discussions following independent reading tasks, but the materials do not include direct guidance for students to track their progress and growth as independent readers. At times, the materials leave the option for outside of class independent reading to take place, but scheduling and tracking of this is left up to the discretion of the teacher.
Evidence that supports this rationale include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1, Part 4, Activity 3, students select one of three texts that they have read independently in a previous lesson to discuss with a small group. Students will then analyze their chosen text independently. Questioning Path Tools provide built-in support as they help students focus on certain aspects of the text to foster understanding and analysis. The instructional materials suggest that this reading can be done as homework or in class which allows the teacher to appropriately balance both in and outside of class reading. While the instructional materials provide supports/scaffolds that foster independence, they do not include procedures for independent reading, a proposed schedule for independent reading, or an accountability or tracking system.
- In Unit 3, Part 1, Activity 1, “students independently read paragraphs 18 through 106 and use the Supporting EBC Tool to look for evidence to support a claim made by the teacher.” While the text does not provide procedures for independent reading, it does suggest that students complete this activity for homework to help students build the habit of perseverance in reading. In Unit 3, Part 1, Activity 2, students are provided with a series of guiding questions via the Questioning Path Tool to help guide them through the text. The instructional materials use independent reading throughout this unit and provide guiding questions to help students move from a literal understanding of the text to a deeper analysis; however, the instructional materials do not provide a schedule, an accountability system, or in this unit, any suggested independent reading outside the anchor text.
- In Unit 5, Part 1, Activity 2, “students read and analyze background text to develop an initial understanding of the topic.” While previous units have provided “comprehensive sets of text-dependent questions” to guide them through their reading and analysis, the instructional materials suggest that by this point in the school year “students should have begun to develop independence as readers…and should not require prescriptive scaffolding.” Instead the instructional materials provide text-dependent questions to help them analyze the elements and reasoning in arguments. Throughout this unit, students will be reading a variety of texts suggested by the instructional materials; since not all student will read the same texts, much of this reading and research will be done independently. While a wide variety of texts at different lexile levels are provided for student use via Text Sets, the instructional materials do not provide a proposed schedule or an accountability/tracking system for independent reading.
Instructional Supports and Usability Indicators
The materials provide a clear, useful, standards-aligned Teacher Edition, including information to bolster the teacher’s understanding of both the content and pedagogy. Additional information outlines the program’s instructional approaches, philosophy, and the research that undergirds the program.
The materials provide information for students about the program, but there are no information or protocols for communicating with families about the goals and structure of the program.
Routines and guidance within the program assist teachers in progress monitoring, though the connections between the assessments and the standards they are measuring is not clear. Sufficient guidance is provided for interpreting student performance, though specific strategies or guidance for remediation for students who are not proficient is not offered.
The materials do not outline a consistent plan for holding students accountable for independent reading. Student choice is often limited within the independent reading options.
Digital materials are web-based, compatible with multiple Internet browsers, “platform neutral”; they follow universal programming style and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.
The included technology enhances student learning, including differentiation for the needs of all learners. The program does not provide technology for collaboration. The materials can be easily customized for local use.
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Materials are designed with great consideration for effective lesson structure, pacing, and are designed to be completed within a school year, including some flexibility for local academic goals and content. Ample review and practice resources are provided and all materials are clearly labeled and accompanied by documentation that delineates their alignment to the standards. The design of the materials is minimalistic (orange, black, and white color scheme) and may not be engaging for students.
Materials are well-designed (i.e., allows for ease of readability and are effectively organized for planning) and take into account effective lesson structure (e.g., introduction and lesson objectives, teacher modelling, student practice, closure) and short-term and long-term pacing.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing. Each unit is divided into five parts, and each part is divided into activities. Not only does each part within a unit build in complexity, the units also become more complex as the year progresses. This intentional design helps students develop necessary skills before advancing to the next activity or unit. Also, by dividing each part into activities, the instructional materials are able to provide a realistic estimated time frame for completion.
In Unit 1, the instructional materials provide an overview of the activities for Part 1:
- Introduction to the Unit
- Attending to Details
- Reading Closely for Details
- Attending to Details in Multimedia
- Independent Reading and Research
This lesson structure moves students from a teacher-direction introduction and guided analysis of text to an independent reading and research activity. The materials suggest that this Unit 1, Part 1 should take three to four days to complete.
In Unit 3, Part 3, the materials outline the following activities:
- Independent Reading and Forming Evidence-Based Claims (EBCs)
- Comparing EBCs
- Model the Organizing of EBCs
- Deepening Understanding
- Organizing EBCs in Pairs
- Class Discussion of Student EBCs
This lesson structure moves students through the process of developing and explaining EBCs by providing opportunities for independent reading with the support of teacher modeling and a cooperative feedback process. Unit 3, Part 3 should take two to three days to complete.
In Unit 5, the materials provide an overview of the activities for Part 3:
- Evaluating Arguments
- Developing a Perspective and Position
- Deepening Understanding
- Using Others’ Arguments to Support a Position
- Responding to Opposing Arguments
This lesson structure is designed to help students through the process of evaluating arguments and synthesizing information to establish their own positions which is a vital step in the research process as students prepare to write an evidence-based argumentative
The teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that the teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding. The materials provide effective guidance and flexibility for teachers to address all the content and supplement with local academic goals and curricula. The materials address intertwined essential skills delineated in five units. Each unit focuses on a Core Proficiency for literacy that builds skills applicable beyond the English language arts classroom. The materials are vertically aligned by consistently addressing the same Core Proficiencies in five units in each proceeding grade.
Evidence that supports this rationale include, but are not limited to:
- The materials consist of five units focused on four essential proficiencies that are designed to intertwine the building of knowledge. Each unit delineates standards-aligned Academic Habits into five parts with a varying amount of activities that range from 1 to 3 instructional days as determined by the teachers.
- The materials recursively focus on 20 essential Literacy Skills and 12 Academic Habits applied to text-centered analysis tasks in order to maximize student understanding of skills. Tasks include reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
- The materials bundle multiple standards and literacy skills into four Core Proficiencies. Each unit focuses on a different proficiency for students to master. The Core Proficiencies include: Reading Closely for Textual Details, Making Evidence-Based Claims, Researching to Deepen Understanding, and Building Evidence-Based Arguments.
- The materials provide guidance for structuring yearlong instruction and supplementing with local curricular content based on students’ needs as determined by the teacher.
- The materials are vertically aligned and follow the same formula and address the same Core Proficiencies from grade-to-grade with increasingly complex texts and opportunities for independent work.
The student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.).
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that the student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (eg. visuals, maps, etc.) Student materials at Grade 9 include a variety of tools for students to practice the targeted skills in the instructional materials. The Reading Closely for Textual Details Literacy Toolbox includes, but is not limited to the following handouts: Reading Closely Graphic, Guiding Questions Handout, Attending to Details Handout, and Reading Closely Final Writing and Discussion Task Handout. In addition to the handouts, students are provided with a variety of tools to practice targeted Core Literacy Proficiency Skills, such as the Approaching the Text Tool, Analyzing Details Tool, Questioning Path Tool, and Model Questioning Path Tools. Checklists are provided to support peer- and self-review. Texts are included in the Student Edition and Additional Resources in the Topic Area are included in the Student Edition with guidance regarding where to locate online resources. Images are labeled appropriately.
Evidence that supports this rationale include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1, eight texts are provided in the Student Edition as well as Extended Reading opportunities including Lectures and Biographical Sketches by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Education and National Welfare by Horace Mann. These texts are located prior to Part 1 in the Student Edition. Text 1 consists of two images: Classroom Pictures, 1950s and 2012. Each image is printed with a label on the right to differentiate the 1950s classroom image from the 2012 classroom image.
- In Unit 4, Additional Resources in the Topic Area are included in the Student Edition prior to the Literacy Toolbox, including Music on the Web and Music and Therapy. Guidance is provided for students to access these resources through the appropriate website. For example, “Music is medicine, music is sanity,” Robert Gupta, TED Talk, February 2010. Available through the Ted.com website.
- In Unit 5, Part 2, Analyzing Arguments, students are provided with Questioning Path Tools to assist them in approaching the text. Clear instructions are included directly on the Questioning Path Tool, including the following: “I determine my reading purposes and take note of key information about the text. I identify the LIPS domain(s) that will guide my initial reading.” Prompts are provided on the side to remind students to identify Purpose, Key Information, and LIPS domain(s).
Materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items. The materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of both primary and supporting standards at the following levels: year, unit, and part. Both the Reading Closely: Guiding Questions Handout and the Questioning Path Tools, which are used extensively throughout the instructional materials, are aligned to specific reading and writing standards.
Evidence that supports this rationale include, but are not limited to:
- In the Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies: User Guide, the materials provide an Alignment of Targeted CCSS with OE Skills and Habits chart. This chart provides the CCSS Anchor Standards and the aligned Literacy Skills and Academic Habits.
- For each Unit, the materials provide the CCSS alignment and divide the standards into primary targeted skills and related reading and writing skills from supporting CCSS; in addition, the instructional materials provide the targeted and supporting standards for each part of each unit.
- Throughout the materials, students use the Reading Closely: Guiding Questions Handout. This handout organizes questions into four areas: Language, Ideas, Perspective, and Structure. The Language questions address Common Core State Standards R.4, L.3, L.4, and L.5. The Ideas questions address Common Core State Standards R.2, W.3, R.8, R.9. The Perspective questions address Common Core State Standard R.6. The Structure questions address the Common Core State Standard R.5.
The visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria that the visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject. The visual design, while not distracting or chaotic, does not help students engage with the subject. Materials are printed in black and white with orange headings, very few graphics or pictures are provided, and the graphic organizers do not allow much room for student response. There is no color-coding to help convey structure and speed up visual searching. The materials are not visually engaging.
Evidence that supports this rationale include, but are not limited to:
- In the Unit 1 materials, the only visuals provided serve as Text 1. These consist of two pictures of classrooms; one is from the 1950s, and the other is from 2012. Both are in black and white. In Unit 1, Part 4, Activity 3, the Questioning Path Tool for Text 9 provides eight questions with subquestions, but does not provide any room for students to record notes/answers.
- In the Unit 3 materials, no visuals are provided. Many tools are provided in this unit including the Forming Evidence-Based Claims Tool and the Organizing Evidence-Based Claims Tool. These graphic organizers, which are designed to help students prepare for writing, do not provide adequate space for students to record evidence, details, or reflections.
- In the Unit 5 materials, no visuals are provided. All texts are accessible via the Internet. In Unit 5, Part 2, Activity 3, the Questioning Path Tool for text 4.1 provides seven questions, but does not provide any room for students to record notes/answers.
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Materials support teacher learning and understanding of the Standards.
The materials provide a Teacher Edition with strong support, clear guidance, and abundant useful instructional notes. Advanced literary concepts are supported with additional information to bolster the teacher’s understanding of both the content and the pedagogy. The standards alignment within the materials is clearly delineated within unit overviews.Materials meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum. The instructional approaches and program philosophy are described within the materials as well as the program’s focus on research-based strategies.The materials provide information for students about the program, but there are neither instruction nor protocols for communicating with families about the goals and structure of the program.
Materials contain a teacher's edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and in the ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and in the ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning. Because of the tool-based organization, the teacher’s edition includes ample and useful instructional notes which offer suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and in the ancillary materials. Also included is teacher guidance for the places where technology is used to support and enhance student learning.
The teacher’s edition begins with a User Guide for Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies that spells out a proficiency-based approach to developing literacy. It also lays out the Literacy Skills and Academic Habits that will be referred to in the student edition and the language used throughout the program. It specifically refers to the Literacy Toolbox which is made up of three types of materials: handouts, tools, and checklists/rubrics of which the student edition is primarily comprised. At the end of the User Guide is a section entitled “Media Supports” which specifically addresses multimedia to support teaching and learning.
In each of the 5 units, there are specific “Instructional Notes” that give teachers guidance and refer directly to the materials in the student edition. For example, in Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 1, the Instructional Notes explain how to introduce the Reading Closely Graphic and Guiding Questions Handout in the student edition. Instructional Notes also help to differentiate between students’ experience levels and provide for students who may be more sophisticated in their skill sets. For example, in Unit 3, Part 3, Activity 3, there is an additional set of questions to pose so students can think more deeply about the claims they are developing. Finally, Instructional Notes give specific instructions on how to use the materials within the Student Edition. In Unit 4, Part 5, Activity 1, the Taking Notes Tool, Forming EBC Research Tools, and Organizing EBC Research Tools contained in the student edition are explained as ways to arrive at and develop the evidence-based perspective, as well as help tell a story about the research process.
Materials contain a teacher's edition that contains full, adult-level explanations and examples of the more advanced literacy concepts so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition that contains full, adult-level explanations and examples of the more advanced literacy concepts so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary. Teacher editions provide adequate guidance for preparing each unit of study in a year-long course. The materials provide clear and multiple examples and explanations to support a teacher’s understanding of the texts and literacy skills for effective modeling to occur during class time.
Evidence that supports this rationale includes, but are not limited to:
- Teacher editions of rubrics and Academic Habits include guidance to use as classroom formative assessments.
- The Literacy Toolbox includes teacher and student editions. Teacher editions are accompanied with more details and examples for teachers to use during instruction to help them know what to recognize when observing student discussions for formative assessment.
- Each unit includes extensive preparatory details for the teacher to schedule instruction with suggestions for differentiation and optional tasks.
- Units include extensive Text Notes to support teachers to deliver instruction in a coherent and consistent approach. Text Notes include details about the content and examples for the teacher to use when modeling skills or for teachers to observe students.
- Teacher editions include guidance and justification for the text choices of the materials. For example, justifications note why a particular work is an ideal introduction to Core Proficiencies such as Making Evidence-Based Claims and pinpoint text-specific examples for teachers to understand and acknowledge when modeling this skill. In addition, the materials will provide an explanation justifying a companion text choice and why it is appropriately sequenced
Materials contain a teacher's edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum. The teacher’s edition includes a Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies: User Guide which includes a table listing the anchor Common Core State Standards that are targeted throughout Grade 9. The instructional materials also include a Unit Overview for each unit, including an explanation of the learning progression. In addition, a Common Core State Standards Alignment is included in the teacher’s edition in the Unit Overview for each unit and the description is specific to the instructional focus of the unit.
Evidence to support this rationale include, but are not limited to:
- The Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies: User Guide includes the following guidance for the teacher, “The following table lists the anchor Common Core State Standards that are targeted within the five Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies units and indicates the Literacy Skills and Academic Habits that are derived from or are components of those standards. This cart can be used to walk backward from the OE [Odell Education] criteria used in assessments and rubrics to the CCSS, especially if students are also trying to track student performance specific to the standards.” Specifically, R.1 - R.10, W.1 - W.9, and SL.1 are included in the table with aligned Literacy Skills and Academic Habits.
- In Unit 2, the Unit Overview includes the Learning Progression for the unit activities which are organized into five parts. The teacher’s edition states, “The sequence of learning activities supports the progressive development of the critical reading and thinking skills involved in making evidence-based claims.”
- In Unit 4, Part 1, the teacher’s edition includes Alignment to CCSS that list targeted standards and supporting standards specific to the instructional focus of the unit. For example, a targeted standard is in relation to “CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question…” and a supporting standard is as follows: “CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9.-10.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.”
Materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research based strategies. The Grade 9 materials contain a clear explanation of the instruction approaches and philosophy of the program and clear identification and focus on research based strategies.
Evidence that supports this rationale is include, but are not limited to:
- Each of the instructional materials begin with Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies User Guide which breaks down the Proficiency-Based Approach to Developing Literacy into five units:
- Reading Closely for Textual Details
- Making Evidence-Based Claims: Making Evidence-Based Claims about Literary Technique
- Researching to Deepen Understanding; Building Evidence-Based Arguments
Also included are a list of Literacy Skills and Academic Habits, both teacher versions and student versions. As another component of the User Guide, it is explained that at the heart of the Odell Education approach is an iterative process for questioning which lays out the essentials tools:
- Reading Closely Graphic
- Guiding Questions Handout
- Questioning Path Tool
- Approaching the Text Tool
- Analyzing Details Tool
- Forming Evidence-Based Claims Tool
Research based strategies are aligned with CCSS W.7--”Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation”; W.8--”Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism” and W.9--”Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.”
Materials contain strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents, or caregivers about the ELA/literacy program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria that materials contain strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents, or caregivers about the ELA/literacy program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.
While the instructional materials contain strategies for informing students about the ELA/literacy program, there is no evidence that this program is shared with stakeholders, nor are there any suggestions included as to how parents or caregivers can support their student’s progress and/or achievement.
Within the Grade 9 instructional materials, there are checklists and rubrics that give feedback to both teachers and students. Evidence that supports this rationale include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1, Part 4, Activity 4, students can use an informal skills-based checklist to self- and peer-assess the literacy skills of Attending to Details, Summarizing, Identifying Relationships, Recognizing Perspective, and Using Evidence. Another checklist is found at the end of Unit 2 that is broken down into Reading Skills, Thinking Skills, Writing Skills, and Essay Content. It ranges from Emerging (Needs Improvement) to Excelling (Exceeds Expectations) and leaves room for comments by the teacher as to the strengths and areas of growth observed in the work, as well as areas for improvement in future work. However, while there are many checklists included for student reflection and teacher feedback, there are no strategies for including other stakeholders.
Materials offer teachers resources and tools to collect ongoing data about student progress on the Standards.
Materials partially meet the criteria for 3K to 3n. Routines and guidance within the program assist teachers in monitoring student progress. Regular opportunities to assess student progress are included within the materials; however, the assessments do not make strong connections between what is being assessed and the standards that are emphasized within that assessment. Sufficient guidance is provided to support teachers in interpreting student performance, though specific strategies or guidance for remediation for students who are not proficient is not offered.The materials do not outline a consistent plan for holding students accountable for independent reading, and student choice is often not an option for the independent reading that is required, though the opportunities for student choice do require students to be held accountable for the selections in order to build stamina and confidence.
Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress. Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress. Throughout the instructional materials, both formative and summative assessments are used to measure student progress. Formative assessments are intentionally placed at the beginning of each unit so that teachers can ensure that students are prepared for the activities leading up to the culminating writing activity.
Each unit consists of five parts; each part ends with either a formative assessment or a summative assessment. Formative assessments consist of work samples including Approaching Text Tools, Analyzing Details Tools, annotations of texts, answers for Questioning Path Tools, written explanations of text analysis, and group/class discussions. Formative Assessments can also include completed Forming Evidence-Based Claims (EBCs) Tools, Supporting EBCs Tools, and Organizing EBCs Tools. Summative Assessments are more formal and consist of multi-paragraph rough drafts and culminating writing tasks.
The purpose/use of each assessment is clear:
Assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 do not meet the criteria that assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized. While the instructional materials do make connections between the assessments and the development of Academic Habits/Literacy Skills, such as Attending to Details and Communicating Clearly, and provide checklists for students to use to self-assess these habits and skills, the assessments do not clearly denote which standards are being emphasized. The instructional materials provide alignment for the year, unit, and part, but do not provide alignment at the activity or assessment level.
Evidence that supports this rationale include, but are not limited to:
- Each unit is divided into five parts and each part has either a formative or summative assessment. The instructional materials do provide targeted and supported standards for each part, but alignment is not clearly provided for assessments. It is not possible to easily determine which standards apply to each part of an assessment.
- Only the Questioning Path Tools, which can be used as formative assessments, are aligned to specific reading and writing standards, but the instructional materials do not identify which standards are aligned to which questions.
Assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow-up.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria that assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow up. Students are assessed often, via formative and summative assessments, and teachers are provided many tools, such as unit-specific rubrics, to help them interpret student performance; however, the instructional materials do not provide strategies or suggestions for how to remediate students who did not master the skills/habits.
Throughout the instructional materials, unit-specific rubrics are provided as tools to assess Literacy Skills and Academic Habits. Each rubric uses a four-point scale to help teachers and students identify areas of strength, weakness, and growth. Teachers are prompted to consider evidence of the skills/habits and rate accordingly. This system of rubrics allows teachers to compare student performance as the year progresses. The instructional materials do not provide follow-up suggestions for students who do not master the skills/habits.
Materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress. There are routines and guidance in place throughout grade 9, as well as the 9-12 curriculum, which allow for opportunities to monitor student progress.
Each grade level is divided into five units:
- Unit 1--Reading Closely for Textual Details
- Unit 2--Making Evidence Based Claims
- Unit 3--Making Evidence-Based Claims about Literary Technique
- Unit 4--Researching to Deepen Understanding
- Unit 5--Building Evidence-Based Arguments
Each part within each unit culminates in a formative assessment opportunity and Part 5 in a summative assessment opportunity, embedding many opportunities within each unit to monitor student progress. Beyond these assessment opportunities are tools, such as the Questioning Path Tool as one example, that allow teachers to guide and monitor students’ progress.
Materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria that materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation. There is very little student choice in the Grade 9 instructional materials for independent reading. In the few occasions where there is choice, materials do hold students accountable for their selections and may contribute to their stamina and confidence.
Student independent reading choice is built into only Unit 4 and Unit 5. Unit 4 explores Music and the Role it Plays in Our Lives, and Unit 5 has students reflect on what is meant by terrorism. Within each unit is a common source set, and while students read many of the same texts as their peers, there is some choice, depending on the inquiry path they wish to follow. Within the student edition, there are many materials that hold students accountable for this reading--the Exploring a Topic Tool, Potential Sources Tool, Taking Notes Tool, Research Frame Tool, and Research Evaluation Tool. Since Unit 5 is focused on Building Evidence-Based Arguments, the tools to hold students accountable include the Questioning Path Tool, Forming Evidence-Based Claims Tool, Organizing Evidence-Based Claims Tool, Delineating Arguments Tool, and Evaluating Arguments Tool. These tools can support students in building the notes and skills necessary to write the summative assessments at the end of each unit.
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Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so that they demonstrate independent ability with grade-level standards.
Materials offer teachers the ability to personalize the materials for all learners. The program provides the opportunity for all learners to work within grade-level text, including those whose skills may be above or below grade level, or whose English proficiencies may provide additional challenges as they engage with the content. All students have extensive opportunities to read, write, speak, and listen to grade level text and meet or exceed grade level standards. Lessons provide whole class, small group, and independent learning opportunities throughout the school year.
Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so the content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding the grade-level standards.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations. Teachers determine whether students need increased scaffolding and time, or less. Differentiation support is integrated into the scaffolding and design of the instructional materials. At times, teachers are reminded to determine whether students need more or less time to develop a Core Proficiency. Most units include supplemental texts. These can be used by the teacher to give students additional opportunities to develop skills. The supplemental texts are categorized as “Extended Reading.” In addition to this, the materials claim to be designed so schools can use local curricular materials. This flexibility allows for teachers to determine the text complexity appropriate for students.
Evidence that supports this rationale include, but are not limited to:
- Instructional supports for English Language Learners and students reading below grade level are integrated and scaffolded into the explicit instructions for each activity. Each activity follows a progression moving from scaffolding and support to independent application.
- The sequence of instruction and supporting tools are the same for all students. However, the materials note that the tools and activities can be applied to alternative or supplemental texts not included in the materials.
- In order to help students understand the content, the materials will suggest making analogies or allotting more time to tasks. For example, the materials suggest comparing the process of close reading to analytical processes used by experts--scientists, detectives, etc.-- in other fields. The materials also suggest for teachers to skip the Introductory Analogy if students are sufficiently familiar with the close reading skill.
- “Extended Reading” refers to supplemental, optional texts teachers can incorporate if students need more opportunities to develop literacy skills.
- Text choices are bundled in order to effectively increase in complexity over the course of a unit. In each unit, the first text is a visual and is followed by a text with a Lexile measurement below grade level to allow access for all students. By the end of the unit, students are reading texts at or above grade level independently and in small groups. The small group discussions intend for students to self- and peer-assess understanding.
Materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen below grade level, or in a language other than English, with extensive opportunities to work with grade level text and meet or exceed grade-level standards.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen below grade level, or in a language other than English, with extensive opportunities to work with grade level text and meet or exceed grade-level standards. By design, the materials provide all students with the opportunity to interact with grade-level texts. The materials allow for teachers to determine when to incorporate texts above grade level. In units where students engage with multiple texts, the materials do not require all students to read every text. The materials provide suggestions for organizing small groups to support English Language Learners and students reading below grade level.
Evidence that supports this rationale include, but are not limited to:
- The materials include a section dedicated to helping teachers understand the support structures integrated in the sequence of activities. This section describes the seven routines designed to support all students, including English Learners and below-grade-level readers. Following this progression, according to the materials, provides all students with the opportunity to interact with texts at grade-level complexity. The seven supports are as follows:
- Intentional Unit Design and Instructional Sequence
- Short Texts, Focused Reading
- Read-Alouds and Modeling
- Guiding Question Framework
- Graphic Organizers
- Reading Teams
- Academic Vocabulary
- The Unit Design and Instructional Sequence includes visual texts for students to practice Core Proficiency skills before transferring the skill to grade-level printed texts.
- When presented with a series of texts or common source sets of multiple texts to analyze, the materials state that students should not be required to read all texts. This allows for the teacher to provide text choices at a student's current reading level. Additionally, the activity includes a small group discussion and suggests students to be grouped by reading level and assigned texts at their current level.
Materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level. Materials contain integrated suggestions, Extended Readings, and optional activities to extend learning. The mix of activities offered allow for advanced students to explore texts or more complex texts while practicing the Core Proficiencies skills at greater depth.
Evidence that supports this rationale includes, but are not limited to:
- The materials suggest teachers consider the needs and background experiences of students before beginning a unit of study. Specifically, if a student has “advanced skills” or “extensive previous experience,” the teacher can expect the instruction to “move more rapidly.”
- For advanced students, the materials also suggest teachers concentrate time on engaging students with the Extended Reading texts provided in some units and “emphasize more complex topics.”
- The materials are vertically aligned and utilize the same lists, handouts, and rubrics provided in the Literacy Toolbox. For advanced students and students with previous experience, the materials recognize they will rely less on the Literacy Toolbox supports and are encouraged to “use their own, developing strategies” for analyzing texts.
- At times, the materials will present optional assessment opportunities for teachers to collect evidence and for students to demonstrate understanding. In Unit 1, Part 5, the Summative Assessment Opportunities offers an optional collection of evidence through a writing task. Multiple pathways to accomplish the writing are provided by the materials. This is done as a supplement to the summative discussion activity. Due to the intentional vertically-aligned design of the materials, this option is presented in every grade level.
Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies. The materials are designed with collaboration as an essential academic habit. Students are provided regular opportunities to work as a class, in pairs, and in small groups. In each variation, students develop literacy skills by completing a Literacy Toolbox resource, analyzing text, and collaborating on writing.
Evidence that supports this rationale include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 3, Part 1, Activity 4, after the teacher models the formation of an evidence-based claim (EBC), students practice the skill in pairs with the support of the Literacy Toolbox resources.
- In Unit 4, Part 2, Activity 1, after the teacher models and develops an Inquiry Question and pathway, students work in small groups to develop 2 to 3 pathways.
- In Unit 5, Part 3, Activity 1, students work in “reading teams” to apply the material’s eight criteria from the Evaluating Arguments Tool to objectively rate an argument.
Materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning. Digital materials are accessible and available in multiple platforms.
Digital materials are web-based, compatible with multiple Internet browsers, “platform neutral”; they follow universal programming style and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.
Effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate is supported. There are multiple opportunities for teachers to differentiate instructional materials for multiple student needs, including supports before, during, and after each selection. The materials can be easily customized for local use. The program does not provide technology for collaboration.
Digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) are web-based, compatible with multiple Internet browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), "platform neutral" (i.e., are compatible with multiple operating systems such as Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices. This qualifies as substitution and augmentation as defined by the SAMR model. Materials can be easily integrated into existing learning management systems.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 include digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) that are web-based, compatible with multiple internet browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), “platform neutral” (i.e., Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.
The instructional materials provide many of the texts in print format and these are included in the teacher’s edition and student’s edition. Handouts included in the Literacy toolbox can be accessed online and additional copies can be printed for the purpose of annotation. The Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies: User Guide preceding Unit 1 in the Grade 9 materials provides additional guidance for teachers in relation to Electronic Supports and Versions of Materials. For example, “The Odell Education Literacy Toolbox files, including handouts, tools and checklists, are available " as editable PDF forms. With the free version of Adobe Reader, students and teachers are able to type in the forms and save their work for recording and emailing.” The resources can be located using a website and password provided in the instructional materials.
There are texts utilized in the instructional materials that are accessible online only. The instructional materials state, “Because of the ever-changing nature of website addresses, specific links are not provided. Teachers and students can locate these texts using provided key words (e.g., article titles, authors, and publishers).” The online texts are available for free access using the resource information provided by the publisher. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1, a table labeled, Reading Closely Media Supports, includes a multimedia time line published by PBS entitled, "Only a Teacher—Teaching Timeline."
- In Unit 4, Additional Resources in the Topic Area are listed, including a TED Talk by Benjamin Zander entitled, “The transformative power of classical music”.
- In Unit 5, Building Evidence-Based Arguments Unit Texts, a table lists all the five Text Sets included in the unit and the instructional materials state, “The unit uses texts that are accessible for free on the Internet without any login information, membership requirements, or purchase.”
Materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate and providing opportunities for modification and redefinition as defined by the SAMR model.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate.
Many texts are accessible online to build background knowledge and can be used to supplement the anchor texts. Teachers are provided with an opportunity to utilize audio versions of texts available online and in print format for students to follow along with the text. The PDF versions of handouts and graphic organizers are editable and provided by Odell Education; therefore, students can type directly on the handouts and these can be submitted electronically to the teacher. Texts Sets include a variety of options beyond print, such as videos, audio recordings, images, and timelines. Teachers could choose to assign independent reading and annotations at home due to the accessibility through both the publisher website with a password and the free resources available online. Key words are provided when web addresses are not to assist teachers and students in locating the resources. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 2, Plato’s Apology is available in audiobook format via Youtube and included in the Making Evidence-Based Claims Media Supports.
- In Unit 4, an additional resource students can access online is a TED Talk available through the Ted.com website entitled, “Music is medicine, music is sanity” by Robert Gupta.
- In Unit 5, the facts listed in the Building Evidence-Based Arguments Unit Texts table provide enough information to access the correct argument online, “Terrorism Can Only Be Defeated by Education, Tony Blair Tells the UN,” published 11/22/2013 by UN News (news article and video).
Materials can be easily customized for individual learners.
Digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so the content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding the grade-level standards. The instructional materials include a criteria-based assessment system throughout the five units included in Grade 9.
Students utilize handouts and graphic organizers to practice and demonstrate proficiency relating to targeted skills. The graphic organizers and tools can be used as a formative assessment by the teacher and completed digitally by students using the editable PDFs provided by Odell Education. Student annotation and submission for evaluation can take place electronically. The graphic organizers are included as an instructional tool to support English language learners and students reading below grade level: “Visually, the tools help students understand the relationships among concepts, processes, and observations they make from texts. In addition, Media Supports are included in the instructional materials: ‘The various media (i.e. videos, audio, images, websites) can be assigned and explored at the student or group level to differentiate experiences for students based on their interests and abilities’.” Students who require more challenging texts have the opportunity to explore topics using texts at higher levels of complexity. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1, students utilize an Approaching Texts Tool that teachers can use to gauge students’ ability to create guiding questions for the first reading of the text and create text-specific questions to help focus the rereading of the text; the tool can be printed and handwritten or completed digitally using an editable PDF.
- In Unit 2, Media Supports include an Ebook of Plato’s Apology published by Project Guttenberg that can be accessed using an electronic device.
- In Unit 4, Common Source Sets offer a variety of complexity levels from which teachers may choose for exploration by students. In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 3, “This Common Source should be accessible to students, but it also should provide some additional reading challenges, often by referencing technical information or terminology.”
Materials can be easily customized by schools, systems, and states for local use.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 can be easily customized for local use. The online resources available allow teachers the opportunity to print additional copies for annotation and offer editable PDFs for students to use and submit their work electronically. Teachers have the choice of which texts they would like to use as model texts when presented with Common Source Sets, such as in Unit 4. Also, teachers can differentiate for students and choose specific texts in the Common Source Sets that individual students or small groups will read together. Additional resources are available to allow for further exploration and to allow an opportunity to increase the level of complexity for students who need an additional challenge. The tools provided offer a method for formative assessment, and teachers can make decisions regarding future units based on student performance. The following Instructional Notes are an example of guidance to the teachers:
- Teachers can use these Common Sources as a model in several ways, depending on the classroom context and emerging student interests.
- Select a single source for modeling that matches with the direction for investigation that the class is likely to pursue. All students read and work with this single Common Source.
- Use one source for modeling and a second for guided practice. All students read both sources, working with one as a class and the other in small groups.
- Use all three sources (and additional ones if helpful), grouping students by possible topic interests and modeling and practicing within groups.
- Find other, similar Common Source(s) related to the topic and subtopics the class is examining.
Materials include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g. websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.)
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 do not include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g. websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.) While students are encouraged to collaborate with one another throughout the five units in a face-to-face format, there are no opportunities for students to create group projects or peer assess each other’s work virtually. Teachers would need to seek out these opportunities when planning the lessons outside of the tools offered in the instructional materials. The materials offers Professional Development to educators on the website: “Odell Education (OE) collaborates with districts and schools that are implementing the Core Literacy Proficiencies Program. OE works with educators on the foundational principles of the instruction, as well as the integration of the units into their curriculum and the use of the materials in their classrooms.” However, opportunities for teachers to engage online with their colleagues is not present on the website.